From the Bottom Up: Selected Essays (Hardcover)
Kent Greenawalt's From the Bottom Up constitutes a collection of articles and essays written over the last five decades of his career. They cover a wide range of topics, many of which address ties between political and moral philosophy and what the law does and should provide. A broad general theme is that in all these domains, what really is the wisest approach to difficult circumstances often depends on the particular issues involved and their context. Both judges and scholars too often rely on abstract general formulations to provide answers. A notable example in political philosophy was the suggestion of the great and careful scholar, John Rawls, that laws should be based exclusively on public reason. The essays explain that given uncertainty of what people perceive as the line between public reason and their religion convictions, the inability of public reason to resolve some difficulty questions, such as what we owe to higher animals, and the feeling of many that their religious understanding should count, urging exclusive reliance on public reason is not a viable approach. Other essays show similar problems with asserted bases for legal interpretations and the content of provisions such as the First Amendment.
About the Author
After earning a graduate degree at Oxford and attending Columbia Law School, where he was editor in chief of the law review, Kent Greenawalt served as law clerk to Justice Harlan and began teaching at Columbia Law School. With brief stints as a visitor at All Souls College, Oxford, and Deputy Solicitor General, he has been teaching at Columbia for 50 years. As a scholar he has written multiple articles and 15 books, the majority of which Oxford has published.