Natural Law and Vengeance: Jurisprudence on the Streets of Gotham

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Batman is allied with modern natural law in the way he relies upon reason to bring about his vision of 'true justice', operating as a force external to law. This vision of justice is a protective one, with Batman existing as a guardian—a force for resistance against the corruption of the state and the failures of the legal system. But alongside his rational means, Batman also employs violence as he moves beyond the boundaries of the civilised state into the dark and violent world outside law's protection. He thus sacrifices his own safety to ensure the safety of others—he is a Dark Knight, a sentinel, fighting the nasty and brutish underworld of criminality in his effort to bring rational order to the world and protect the people of Gotham from criminal harm. This fight for justice is fueled by a deeply private trauma: the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents: a private desire for vengeance that Batman transcends. In navigating Batman's jurisprudential dimensions, we are ultimately reminded that private desires and motivations are enfolded within the public structures of justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-785
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Semiotigue juridique
Issue number4
Early online date2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Batman
  • Natural law
  • Violence
  • Justice/vengeance
  • Public/private
  • Resistance


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