Defaming the Dead


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Don Herzog

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Do the dead have rights? In a persuasive argument, Don Herzog makes the case that the deceased’s interests should be protected

This is a delightfully deceptive works that start out with a simple, seemingly arcane question—can you libel or slander the dead?—and develops it outward, tackling larger and larger implications, until it ends up straddling the borders between law, culture, philosophy, and the meaning of life. A full answer to this question requires legal scholar Don Herzog to consider what tort law is actually designed to protect, what differences death makes—and what differences it doesn’t—and why we value what we value. Herzog is one of those rare scholarly writers who can make the most abstract argument compelling and entertaining.

Don Herzog teaches law and political theory at the University of Michigan. He lives in Ann Arbor.

“This fascinating book is not merely about defamation and death but about rationality, the nature of human interests, and what we value and why we value it. Herzog offers for all of these topics interesting arguments, fascinating puzzles, and constant provocation to think and to contemplate.”—Frederick Schauer, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia

"The conclusion of this book—that it ought to be possible to recover damages for defamation of the dead—is hardly an earth-shattering thesis in public policy. But the route that Don Herzog takes to his conclusion is beautifully laid out, sparkling with history, anecdote, and argument, all presented in his inimitably engaging style."—Jeremy Waldron, New York University

"Don Herzog explores an odd corner of tort law--defamation and other cases on behalf of the dead--to make the case that individuals really do have interests in what happens after they are dead, and that the point of tort law is to vindicate individual interests. A must-read for those who deny that the dead have interests; a terrific romp for those who think they do.—Elizabeth Anderson, John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

“A conversational and imaginative look at the idea of defamation . . . Clear, lively, and thought provoking.”—Choice

“Reading Herzog’s book feels like having a conversation with a clever friend who challenges you to consider not only what you believe but why.”—Amy M. Koopmann, Law Library Journal

“[An] odd delight . . . thought-provoking and often funny. . . . Herzog’s tour of the field is a worthwhile interrogation of much more than defamation, and much more than tort law.”—Richard Peltz-Steele, The Savory Tort
ISBN: 9780300221541
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
288 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4
2 b/w illus.
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