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Eye for an Eye [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

William Ian Miller

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Kurzbeschreibung

19. Dezember 2005
This book is a historical and philosophical meditation on paying back and buying back, that is, it is about retaliation and redemption. It takes the law of the talion - eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth - seriously. In its biblical formulation that law states the value of my eye in terms of your eye, the value of your teeth in terms of my teeth. Eyes and teeth become units of valuation. But the talion doesn't stop there. It seems to demand that eyes, teeth, and lives are also to provide the means of payment. Bodies and body parts, it seems, have a just claim to being not just money, but the first and precisest of money substances. In its highly original way, the book offers a theory of justice, not an airy theory though. It is about getting even in a toughminded, unsentimental, but respectful way. And finds that much of what we take to be justice, honor, and respect for persons requires, at its core, measuring and measuring up.

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'Getting even, as the biblical precept implies, is the essence of justice, according to this engaging essay. It's a simple idea, but Miller … finds a world of social complexity in humanity's efforts to get the accounting right. Miller offers a discursive, erudite, idiosyncratic but illuminating reappraisal of our urge to settle scores.' Publisher's Weekly

'Miller gives the Hebrew scriptures an interesting going-over looking for examples, then ranges back to their juridical origins in the legal codes of Babylon and Sumer. He's at his most passionate on the literature of Icelandic sagas, which is one of his great academic specialties … Miller is at his best when he digresses most completely into literary and film criticism. His chapters on Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' and Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven' are about as good as you can get.' Los Angeles Times

'Clearly, Miller aims to provoke when he claims our ancestors had a better idea about how to repay a wrong than we do now … Though at points Miller seems earnest in his call for a return to blood-thirstier times, he also argues-quite sensibly - that the American system of criminal justice can be overly detached from the wrongs it intends to right.' Corporate Counsel

'William Ian Miller has written a marvellous book that I found absolutely riveting. Eye for an Eye succeeds brilliantly in demonstrating that the lex talionis was often meant and taken literally; that it still plays a powerful, if submerged, role in our thinking about revenge and justice today; and that, in practice, it was not nearly as brutal or unfair as other, putatively more civilized ways of dealing with the need for revenge. The book is superbly written and often hilariously funny. I loved it.' Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago

'In Eye for an Eye William Ian Miller provides a full-bodied defense of retributive justice, of just desserts, and of an explicitly arithmetic approach to right and wrong, that counts up the eyes, limbs, bodies, and lives on our various social fields of battle, and seeks to right the scales. Miller shows just how pervasive this drive to account for our rights and wrongs has been in legal history, how deeply we continue to feel it, and how limply inadequate are our modern liberal and utilitarian understandings of justice that try so aggressively to purge this elemental instinct from our law and laws. Provocative, erudite, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny - it is also, often, convincing. Where it is not, it is nevertheless successful: Miller tells his stories in such a way as to make palpable just how much we have sacrificed, as we've turned our collective backs on the age-old project of seeking the precise correction of commensurate wrongs.' Robin West, Georgetown Law Center

'… this is a superb book. The reading is easy, even entertaining, and the arguments might just change the way you think of justice, debt, payment and satisfaction. Miller resoundingly demonstrates that legal history can be exciting.' The Cambridge Law Journal

'This is a refreshing and thought-provoking book … a superb book … Miller resoundingly demonstrates that legal history can be exciting.' The Cambridge Law Journal

Über das Produkt

In its highly original way, this book offers a theory of justice. It is about getting even in a toughminded, unsentimental, but respectful way. And finds that much of what we take to be justice, honor, and respect for persons requires, at its core, measuring and measuring up.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  4 Rezensionen
23 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An Unsurpassed Wealth of Insight about Justice. 16. Januar 2006
Von Jane Friedman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
After five dazzling books each penned - in its own way - at the outlands of the vast intellectual map he is master of - William Ian Miller now gives us Eye for an Eye - a supercharged book fixed inexorably, brilliantly and meticulously at the core of his unrivaled expertise on revenge cultures; a book which explicates with extraordinary sensitivity, precision, even delicacy Miller's tough-minded sensibility about justice. In his preface Miller calls his book "an anti-theory of justice." The appellation is less a description of his own work than a concise critique (so very concise, indeed, as to be a flat dismissal) of the abstract theories of justice that have dominated the academy in the past century and have made scholarly writings about justice irrelevant to 99.99% of the world. Yet Miller's book is a theory of justice - one which insists that justice is about righting the balance, achieving reciprocity and cultivating a willingness to bear the not inconsiderable costs of getting even. Miller explores and explains the nuances of balance in its relation to wrongdoing and he argues convincingly that revenge - to be worthy of the name - must be finely tuned, skillfully measured, and meted out with intelligence (not to mention style). Miller demonstrates the admirable sophistication of revenge cultures. He shows us both how vengeance within such cultures was not indiscriminate, unbridled violence and that much intellectual agility and practical reasonableness went into getting it right when getting even.

Eye for an Eye is also a theory of the body and the body in its relation to justice. We may call it an "anti-theory" here too, since to do so will imply an equally flat dismissal of the generation of academics whose cooler-than-thou theorizing about "the body" has successfully bullied us into to thinking about "the body" as a brainy idea - too feeble, however, to stray too far from its intellectual bolsters like "culturally constructed" "articulated" or "inscribed upon." Miller's theory of the body never lets us forget all that we already know only too well about eyes, teeth, arms, legs, hands, fingers, feet, toes and toenails. (Anyone who has lost a big toenail or broken their pinky will identify acutely with Miller's discussion of the value of these parts.) Miller proves that bodies can and have paradoxically done double duty both as the nuclei of human dignity and as more or less valuable currency in economies of getting even. Bodies and body parts are money, both as measures of value and sometimes also as means of payment.

The crucial - and genuinely earth shattering - insight of this book and the core of Miller's theory of justice is that the lex talionis - the law of an eye for an eye - facilitates rather than ruling out what we see as the more "civilized" processes of negotiation and compensation. He makes a fascinating and compelling argument that - in the language of Calabresi and Melamed - the lex talionis protects our eyes, teeth, and the like with "property rules" not "liability rules." This means that the victim not the wrongdoer, and not a third party, decides how much the wrongdoer must pay for putting his eye out. If the wrongdoer balks at the victim's price - very well. But the credible threat of a return brooch in the eye might just (as we would say) bring the wrongdoer back to the table. Miller masterfully show us that eyes, teeth and lives have greater value in such a regime; and it is in our own culture - not in the revenge cultures that we look down on as barbaric - that life is cheap.

Miller's discussions of the scales of justice, the subtlety of discourse particles like "just" and "even," circumcision, cannibalism, accountants, Shylock and The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, compensation and commensurability, and the significance of the seating arrangements at Viking feasts are among the many virtuoso performances in this book that are not to be missed.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An Insightful Contrast of Approaches to Just Recompense 29. Juli 2007
Von Michael Zeleny - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
William Ian Miller pinpoints the key difficulty in dealing with compensation for bodily loss: the market price of the lost part cannot match the value of its former contribution to the unmolested organism. Lex talionis affords a solution to this disparity by enabling the victim to opt for incurring a reciprocal loss in lieu of accepting monetary compensation offered by the party responsible for his injury. The ensuing threat of losing a valuable organ inspires the perpetrator to raise his offer to the level implicit in its ownership.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Brian Nichols, hmm... 27. April 2011
Von Hibernating Hummingbird - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This is a daring book, it challenges the status quo.
It offers insight on the game-theory behind the current disaster in which there is NO SUCH THING as an OPEN and SHUT CASE. For example Brian Nichols, the defenders were able to get more than a million dollars of state-funds to defend him, when due to the shootings being accomplished with the gun he stole from his jailer, this WAS an open-and-shut-case if there ever was one.
SO this book, plus "The Forever War", in which the author describes that at least under the Taliban there WILL be payback, between these two books you see why foreigners looking for a justice system, they read about the trial of Brian Nichols, and they say no we can't afford a system lacking efficient processing of the open-and-shut-case, "An Eye for an Eye".
1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting Concept 16. Februar 2012
Von seldombites - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
This was a fascinating book presenting a a far different, and more interesting, take on the meaning of justice than most people would form for themselves. Writing about various ages, from Mesopotamia to honour societies, from ancient practices to the formation of the modern court system, Miller presents modern justice as merely a codification of the concept of 'an eye for an eye'.

Referencing sources both modern and ancient, including the Bible, the Torah, Shakespeare and Harvard Law Reviews, Miller makes his point thoroughly and often. My main gripe with this book (and the one thing that prevented me from completing it) is that it tended to become quite repetitive - I feel it could have been quite a bit shorter. Having said that, the author makes some good points and this book is worth reading.
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