a1 University of Delaware
Paradigm. By Jean L. Cohen.
Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004. 304 pp.
Although Jean Cohen's book was originally published in 2002, her
argument for a reformulated justification for the right to privacy seems
more relevant than ever. The resignation of a key swing vote from the
Supreme Court makes feminist concerns about the future of legal abortion
seem all the more pressing. As her subtitle—“a new legal
paradigm”—suggests, Cohen undertakes an ambitious project of
reviving the right to privacy as a key feminist concept, while
simultaneously attempting to rethink the nature and use of the law.
Defending the reflexive paradigm of law, she argues that neither the
liberal nor welfare paradigms of legal action is adequate for formulating
solutions to privacy issues tinged with issues of gender equity, including
abortion, sexual orientation law, and sexual harassment. The book's
strength and weakness is its admirable breadth, as it tackles an
impressive pantheon of legal theory, political philosophy, legal doctrine,
and substantive legal and political issues. The author successfully
refutes the liberal and welfarist paradigms but is less persuasive that
the reflexive paradigm offers a way out of the dilemma.