This book is a historical and philosophical meditation on paying back and buying back, that is, it is about retaliation and redemption. It takes the law of the talion - eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth - seriously. In its biblical formulation that law states the value of my eye in terms of your eye, the value of your teeth in terms of my teeth. Eyes and teeth become units of valuation. But the talion doesn't stop there. It seems to demand that eyes, teeth, and lives are also to provide the means of payment. Bodies and body parts, it seems, have a just claim to being not just money, but the first and precisest of money substances. In its highly original way, the book offers a theory of justice, not an airy theory though. It is about getting even in a toughminded, unsentimental, but respectful way. And finds that much of what we take to be justice, honor, and respect for persons requires, at its core, measuring and measuring up.
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