Lucy Jewel, ‘Does the Reasonable Man Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?’

The reasonable man is an anthropomorphic metaphor for legal reasoning. In this role, he sometimes shows symptoms of mental illness. He exhibits a compulsion to organize, rank, and prevent disorder, a process that can create unjust outcomes. When he is symptomatic, the reasonable man becomes a monster borne out of a fear of disorder. As the putative judge whom all lawyers write and speak in front of, the reasonable man is the reader attorneys fine-tune their arguments and language for. After developing a case history for the reasonable man, this Article engages with several questions. First, when advocates emulate the reasonable man’s white, privileged, patrimonial, and no-nonsense approach to legal reasoning, are they nurturing a monster? Second, do advocates reinforce inequality by adopting the reasonable man’s privileged persona and formalist approach to legal reasoning? And finally, if the reasonable man sometimes exhibits symptoms of a mental disorder, can our law and culture heal him?

Jewel, Lucille A, Does the Reasonable Man Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? (September 1, 2019). Wake Forest Law Review, volume 54, 2019.

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