The art of government

Nofar Sheffi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By taking a step back to revisit Robert Hale’s early twentieth-century critique of the concept of ‘coercion’ in contract, this paper attempts to gain a wider perspective on the freedom–coercion dichotomy–a dichotomy that is invoked to differentiate liberal and critical legal scholarship but also deployed in internal struggles within each ‘camp’. Juxtaposing ‘private autonomy’ with ‘regulation’, liberal scholars mostly disagree over what justifies a regulatory restriction on the exercise of individual freedom. Within critical legal scholarship, the tension is instantiated in debates over the possibility and potential of resistance, as well as the question of change. Framed as an intervention in these debates, this paper aims to account for the role of subjects in government: the orienting of social relations. It draws an analogy between the process of reading meaning into a text and that of viewing a painting, suggesting that both processes entail a transformation of the observer into a visionary: a writer/painter of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-246
Number of pages24
JournalLaw and Humanities
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • coercion
  • construction
  • contract
  • duress
  • Government
  • interpretation
  • perspective
  • Robert Hale
  • virtual reality
  • vision


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