In Flagrante Delicto: On the Legal Implications of Sight

2023, Arethusa 56.1: 77-116 (link).

In Flagrante Delicto” mobilizes the ancient puzzle of “catching somebody in the act” to reconsider our understanding of crime and punishment. The puzzle resides in the fact that criminals caught in the act were punished more severely than those who were not. But why? The article shows that the distinction is expressive of the legal power of sight: the crime seen to be done is worse than the crime that has remained undetected. This surprising link between sensory experiences of crime and gravity of punishment, I argue, rekindles a forgotten connection between the eye and the law and reorients our understanding of why we punish: because of what was visible. 

Debt in the Scales: Mechanics and Metaphor in the ancient Mediterranean

2023, Mètis N.S. 21: 1-33. 

“Debt in the Scales” understands the metaphor of the scales of justice as a negotiation of the problem of value equivalence: why would anyone ever accept monetary compensation as being “equal” to the wrong done, instead of exacting “an eye for an eye”? This article argues that the scales’ legal import resides in what, conceptually and technologically, the instrument can do: able to render dissimilar things equivalent, the balance makes all objects, including crime and compensation, potentially exchangeable.