Section X: Reimagining and Reinventing Societies and Social Thought

Law, Legal Theory and Law Practice

The positivistic tradition in the theory and practice of the law has run its course, and a new foundation for jurisprudence is needed. The thought of Alfred North Whitehead promises to reestablish the law on a deeper and more human basis, better not only for the flourishing of human life, but the life of the natural world as well.

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Howard Vogel
Emeritus Professor

Professor Howard Vogel, Emeritus Professor at Hamline University School of Law, is known for not only teaching the principles of law, but also for helping students learn how to think seriously about their professional identity as lawyers. Trained in both law and theology, Vogel’s teaching and research was located at the intersection of law, religion, and ethics and focused on the possibilities of law to serve the common good in a diverse social and cultural context.

Since retiring Professor Vogel continues to teach Restorative Justice in the Dispute Resolution Institute of the Law School and engage in research, writing and public speaking on various topics that are part of two on-going major research projects.

The first of these projects is entitled Law-As-Process-With-A-Purpose: The Possibilities of Law as Love-In-Action Seeking Beauty — Essays on the Promise of Law and the Legal Profession to Serve the Common Good in the World We Share. This project involves an exploration of the potential of the resources of process thought, with special attention to the process-relational philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, to reframe our understanding of law, its study and practice, in a post-modern reconstructive paradigm that takes events rather than substance as the primary dimension of experience. As such it departs from the dominance of the substance-based perspective of modern philosophy to embrace the possibilities of law-as-process with a purpose, namely to secure justice more widely shared within the community of life.

The second of these projects is entitled Coming Home to Planet Earth: Making Peace with the Earth and Each Other in an Age of Ecological Crisis – Essays on the Possibilities of Law for Social Healing in the World We Share. This project involves an exploration of the potential of restorative justice practices and principles as a creative response to the legacy of ethnic cleansing and slavery in the United States. The dispossession of the indigenous peoples of their land which was then worked with slave labor based on the color-line have brought a legacy of trauma to both the victims and beneficiaries of these practices which is evident in a host of data about widespread social dislocation, dysfunction and injustice in the present day. This project explores the potential of restorative justice to address the full truth of that past with courage as a step toward the development of action aimed at creative transformation in the present so that all life may flourish.

During his 37 years on the full-time faculty, Professor Vogel taught courses in constitutional law, restorative justice, international human rights, and a seminar in ethics exploring the lawyer’s professional identity and responsibility within the context of the quest for integrity in the practice of law.

Prior to joining the Hamline Law faculty in 1975, Vogel did extensive public interest litigation in environmental law and was a staff attorney with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.

For more than twenty-five years, Vogel has been an active member of the Society of Christian Ethics, and he is co-founder of the Restorative Justice Interest Group of the Society. From 1989 to 2013, he served as one of the editors of the Journal of Law and Religion.

In 2003, Vogel received the highest award given by the Hamline University Board of Trustees, the John Wesley Trustee Award for Faculty, for outstanding commitment to leadership and service.

Vogel has taught in Budapest, Hungary, as a member of the faculty of the Hamline University School of Law Dispute Resolution Institute summer program (2005), in Jerusalem, Israel, as a member of the faculty of the Hamline-Hebrew University summer program in law, religion, and ethics (1994 and 1995), as visiting professor in the Doctor of Ministry Summer Program at Emory University Theological Seminary (1986), and as visiting professor in the political science department of the University of Minnesota (1989-90 and 1996-97). He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Minnesota, and his Master of Arts in Religious Studies from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus by United Theological Seminary in 2009.

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Mark Modak-Truran
J. Will Young Professor of Law

Dr. Mark C. Modak-Truran is the J. Will Young Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law and a Research Fellow (2014-2015) at the Center of Theological Inquiry (Princeton, NJ). He received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Religious Ethics from The University of Chicago and his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business. He has twice served as the Co-Chair of the Association of American Law School’s Section on Law and Religion (2009, 2002), and his research and writing focus on law and religion and legal theory. Notable Law and Religion publications (see below for Legal Theory): Beyond Theocracy and Secularism (Part I): Toward a New Paradigm for Law and Religion, 27 Miss. C. L. Rev. 159-233 (2007-2008) (Symposium on Religion, Religious Pluralism, and the Rule of Law); Secularization, Legal Indeterminacy, and Habermas’s Discourse Theory of Law, 35 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 73 (2007); Reenchanting the Law: The Religious Dimension of Judicial Decision Making, 53 Cath. U. L. Rev. 709-816 (2004); and Reenchanting International Law, 22 Miss. C. L. Rev. 263 (2003) (Symposium on Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Global Perspective).

Postings from Seizing an Alternative

Suggested Reading List

Links to Section-related books and media for pre-conference preparation include: