‘Are Human Rights Western? Unpacking Some of the Issues’

Lynn Thomas (University of Roehampton)

28 Nov 2012


Convent Parlour

Digby Stuart College

As this will be the final seminar of term, we’ll be going for a meal afterward. All are welcome. If you have any questions please contact Tommy Lynch at thomas.lynch@roehampton.ac.uk.




Summary of last DSRC seminar paper:

Dr Annabelle Mooney – ‘Death Alive and Kicking – Dianne Pretty, Legal Violence and the Sacred’

Please click on this link to see the Powerpoint presentation which accompanied the lecture.

Annabelle Mooney is a linguist specialising in discourses of law and religion, who drew on discourse analysis and Derridean deconstruction to expose unacknowledged quasi-religious assumptions and ideas that inform legal discourse in the British courts. She used the case of Dianne Pretty’s failed attempt to gain immunity from prosecution for her husband if he assisted her to commit suicide when her terminal illness became unbearable,  to explore complex and troubling questions about law, religion and violence. Mooney argued that, although the law presents itself as separate from religion, it continues endorse implicitly religious concepts of the sacred, even while disclaiming the moral and religious dimensions of its operation. In its adherence to the authority of textual analysis (logos) and to the demands of legal precedent consistency (mythos), the law manifests characteristics of a ‘legal religion’ one which endorses religious values, the  ‘religion of law’, in the name of the law. In the case of Dianne Pretty, Mooney argued that the religion of law was used to uphold the religion in law (the sanctity of life) – to deny a dying individual the right to choose the manner of her own death. In this way, the religion of law imposes a religion on those before it, regardless of their personal faith. [Summary written by Tina Beattie]