Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers

Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers : Lessons from Life Outside the Law

3.83 (24 ratings by Goodreads)
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It has long been a commonly shared wisdom that humans need government to bring social order to what would otherwise be a chaotic and dangerous world. But recent thinking suggests that governmental law is not the wellspring of social order--after all, thousands of years ago early humans on the Serengeti Plain, surrounded by faster, stronger, and bigger predators, had no government or law yet produced the most successful species in the history of the planet. Presumably they found ways to cooperate and survive what was a harsh and forbidding environment.

Does modern man retain this same cooperative inclination, or has it atrophied in humans' modern conditions? Living Beyond the Law: Lessons from Pirates, Prisoners, Lepers, and Survivors mines the amazing natural experiments and accidents of modern human history: shipwrecks, plane crashes, leper colonies, pirate crews, escaped slaves, Gold Rush prospectors, prison uprisings, utopian hippie communes, Nazi concentration camps, and a host of other situations in which modern man has been thrown into a situation beyond the reach of law, to explore the fundamental nature of human beings and how we act when we don't necessarily have to behave.
History is rife with examples of how people perform when rules of civility collapse and here, Sarah and Paul Robinson explain that humans in such situations are neither devils nor angels. The real stories included in this book show that modern individuals naturally incline toward reasonable action, even in desperate conditions where survival is at issue. Applying insights from psychology, biology, political science, and social science to these historical and contemproary examples demonstrates that an innate cooperative spirit prevails only in the presence of a system to punish serious wrongdoing within the group and only when that punishment is perceived as just. Living Beyond the Law provides an optimistic picture of human nature--wherein humans are predisposed to be cooperative within limits--that is essential to understanding our contemporary society and to formulate modern criminal law and policy.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 376 pages
  • 150 x 230 x 30.48mm | 680.39g
  • Dulles, United States
  • English
  • 1612347320
  • 9781612347325
  • 902,416

Review quote

"Paul Robinson, perhaps the nation's leading criminal law scholar, has produced a book that raises profound issues while suggesting practical legal reforms--and he does so in a remarkably entertaining way."--Paul G. Cassell, former federal judge and Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Professor of Criminal Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah -- (01/06/2015) "Hobbes said a society without punishment would be a jungle. Some modern day academics have suggested it would prove to be a paradise, if we would only give it a chance. Who is right? Both and neither, as Paul and Sarah Robinson show with the help of some extraordinary, insufficiently appreciated 'natural experiments.'. . . Here we learn how justice emerges from nature red in tooth and claw."--Leo Katz, author of Why the Law Is So Perverse and Frank Carano Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania -- (12/01/2014) "Fun, fascinating, and full of insight: Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers will make you reconsider what you think you know about government and its relationship to social order."--Peter T. Leeson, author of Anarchy Unbound and Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University -- (01/06/2015) "I've been a fan of Paul Robinson's writings on criminal justice for many decades. This book brings his brilliant scholarship to a wider audience in the context of criminal justice issues that affect us all."--Alan Dershowitz, author of Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law and professor emeritus of law at Harvard University -- (01/06/2015) "This engaging book blows the top off the tired old argument over whether humans are selfless do-gooders or relentless self-interest machines. . . . With a series of lively, surprising, and entertaining examples of how we actually behave when the veneer of civilization is gone, this book is a must for anyone who has wondered whether government interferes with our inherently good natures or restrains our inherently bad ones."--Morris Hoffman, state trial judge, member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, and author of The Punisher's Brain -- (12/01/2014) "Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers effectively makes the complexities of criminal justice ideals accessible through captivating stories and excellent research. . . . I would highly recommend this entertaining and enlightening book for law, general academic, and public libraries."--Stephanie Ziegler, Law Library Journal--Stephanie Ziegler "Law Library Journal "
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About Paul H. Robinson

Paul H. Robinson is the Colin S. Diver Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the world's leading criminal law scholars. A prolific writer and lecturer, Robinson has published articles in numerous top law reviews and spoken in 93 cities across 25 countries. His books include Intuitions of Justice and the Utility of Desert (Oxford, 2013), Distributive Principles of Criminal Law: Who Should be Punished How Much (Oxford, 2008), Law Without Justice: Why Criminal Law Doesn't Give People What They Deserve (Oxford, 2005), and Would you Convict? (NYU, 2001), among others. Sarah M. Robinson is a former sergeant in the United States Army and a practiced social worker. Currently, she works as an author and researcher.
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Rating details

24 ratings
3.83 out of 5 stars
5 21% (5)
4 50% (12)
3 21% (5)
2 8% (2)
1 0% (0)
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