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Of paradox and plausibility: the dynamic of change in medical law

Harrington, John ORCID: 2014. Of paradox and plausibility: the dynamic of change in medical law. Medical Law Review 22 (3) , pp. 305-324. 10.1093/medlaw/fwt036

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This article develops a model of change in medical law. Drawing on systems theory, it argues that medical law participates in a dynamic of ‘deparadoxification’ and ‘reparadoxification’ whereby the underlying contingency of the law is variously concealed through plausible argumentation, or revealed by critical challenge. Medical law is, thus, thoroughly rhetorical. An examination of the development of the law on abortion and on the sterilization of incompetent adults shows that plausibility is achieved through the deployment of substantive common sense and formal stylistic devices. It is undermined where these elements are shown to be arbitrary and constructed. In conclusion, it is argued that the politics of medical law are constituted by this antagonistic process of establishing and challenging provisionally stable normative regimes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0967-0742
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 10:30

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