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Legal History Commons

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1997

Legal history

University of Georgia School of Law

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Curses, Oaths, Ordeals And Tials Of Animals, Alan Watson Sep 1997

Curses, Oaths, Ordeals And Tials Of Animals, Alan Watson

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To the outsider, a foreign legal system may at times appear irrational, with a belief in the efficacy, usually with supernatural assistance, of curses, oaths and ordeals, and that animals may properly be punished, even restrained from anti-human behaviour, after a criminal trial. But caution must be exercised. There may be little real belief that the deity will intervene-for instance, that the ordeal will reveal guilt or innocence. Rather, the society may be faced with an intolerable problem, with no reasonable solution, and the participants may resort to extraordinary legal measures as a "Last Best Chance", or "The Second Best ...