Argumentation 2021. International Conference on Alternative Methods of Argumentation in Law



This paper is an attempt at a ‘law and literature’ analysis of Ian McDonald’s Luna trilogy. It claims that operating with a science fiction setting, the trilogy invites the reader to reflect on how and in what form a legal system may contribute to the proper functioning of a human community. The law of the moon rests on consent and antagonism at the same time. The ‘consent’ principle reflects law and economics’ conception that a person should be left to freely negotiate for their interests and rights, and that unless the transaction costs transcend the benefits, such free negotiation is the most effective way to regulate social relationships and increase common wealth. The Moon’s legal system, in this respect, is taken to the extreme, because even though courts do exist, there is no state apparatus to enforce judicial decisions. The system operates on fully individualistic and voluntary compliance to judicial decisions, which means that abiding by a pact is salvaged only by the individual interests of the participants. This reliance on individual interests – a pivotal point of law and economics – seemingly warrants cooperation, but also carries in itself the germ of antagonism.
Antagonism, in my opinion, can be traced on two levels of the workings of the Moon’s so-called legal system. First, it places significant emphasis on fight: substantial truth matters little, if at all, in the moon’s legal system; what matters is pure bargaining power, tactical sense, and sometimes even bluffing, and this feature is even ideologised. One’s rights are constituted as a result of struggle. Second, however, the novel also deconstructs this notion of the law by centring on a more general level of antagonism, the armed conflicts of the various families to ground their own interests. Such conflicts demonstrate the inherent instability of the system that is not backed by a normative structure above pure partial interests.

Klíčová slova

Ian McDonald; Law and Literature; Law in Literature; Luna; Science Fiction; Speculative Fiction.


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