Overview

The front pages of our newspapers and the lead stories on the evening news bear witness to the divorce of law from justice. The rich and famous get away with murder; Fortune 500 corporations operate sweatshops with impunity; blue-chip energy companies that spoil the environment and sicken communities face mere fines that don't dent profits. In The Gift of Science, a bold, revisionist account of 300 years of jurisprudence, Roger Berkowitz looks beyond these headlines to explore the historical and philosophical ...

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THE GIFT OF SCIENCE

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Overview

The front pages of our newspapers and the lead stories on the evening news bear witness to the divorce of law from justice. The rich and famous get away with murder; Fortune 500 corporations operate sweatshops with impunity; blue-chip energy companies that spoil the environment and sicken communities face mere fines that don't dent profits. In The Gift of Science, a bold, revisionist account of 300 years of jurisprudence, Roger Berkowitz looks beyond these headlines to explore the historical and philosophical roots of our current legal and ethical crisis.

Moving from the scientific revolution to the nineteenth-century rise of legal codes, Berkowitz tells the story of how lawyers and philosophers invented legal science to preserve law's claim to moral authority. The "gift" of science, however, proved bittersweet. Instead of strengthening the bond between law and justice, the subordination of law to science transformed law from an ethical order into a tool for social and economic ends. Drawing on major figures from the traditions of law, philosophy, and history, The Gift of Science is not only a mesmerizing and original intellectual history of law; it shows how modern law remains imprisoned by a failed scientific metaphysics.

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Editorial Reviews

Review of Metaphysics
Animating Berkowitz's book is his profound concern that law has abandoned justice as its fundamental aspiration. Once the embodiment of humanity's highest moral ideals, the law has become a mere tool for the pursuit of social and economic interests. This insightful and provocative history of modern legal science aims to explain how this fundamental change in the nature of law occurred. Berkowitz argues that this transformation was ultimately the result of Leibniz's attempt to save law from a crisis of authority by bringing it within the scope of his scientific metaphysics...Berkowitz's narrative encourages a new understanding of the nature of modern legal positivism. Having lost its traditional foundations in natural law, religion, and custom, the essence of modern positive law is its need for scientific justification. Berkowitz's account of the transformation of law from a moral entity into a technical object explains why contemporary jurists tend to disregard the ontological question of law--what is law?--and, at the same time, provides an urgent reminder that this question cannot be ignored.
— Michael B. Mathias
Philosophy in Review
What Berkowitz has done is to contribute to a fuller appreciation of Leibniz' astounding genius by illuminating this other unknown area of his endeavour: the philosophy of law...I recommend it highly.
— Eike-Henner W. Kluge
Law & Politics Book Review
In his highly erudite new book, Roger Berkowitz identifies a fundamental problem at the heart of the modern legal order: we no longer connect law with justice in a meaningful way...The range and difficulty of the material that Berkowitz examines in his account of codification is extraordinary...He provides careful readings of primary texts both famous and obscure, supporting his conclusions with his own translations from the original Latin, German, and French texts. The display of learning and the detailed analyses make for an impressive package.

— Keith J. Bybee

Foundations of Political Theory
Roger Berkowitz, in his The Gift of Science, argues that Leibniz gave us the gift of modern legal science...Readers interested in philosophy, political theory, and legal theory will find in The Gift of Science a provocative and stimulating account of the nitty-gritty dynamics by which modern legal science became what it is. The book is written with clarity and rigor, it is erudite and forcefully argued, and provides a powerful defense of the importance of the metaphysical conceptions at work in what look to be the more mundane aspects of our lives.
— Dan Silver
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674020795
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 234
  • File size: 352 KB

Meet the Author

Roger Berkowitz is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Studies and Human Rights at Bard College.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Note on Terminology

Introduction. Legal Codification, Positive Law, and the Question of Science

Part I: From Insight to Science: Leibniz's Scientific Foundation of Justice

Introduction

1. Beyond Geometry: Leibniz and the Science of Law

2. The Force of Law: Will

3. Leibniz's "Systema Iuris"

Conclusion

Part II: The Allgemeine Landrecht: From Recht to Gesetz

Introduction

4. From the Gesetzbuch to the Landrecht: The ALR and the Triumph of Legality

5. The Rule of Law: The Crown Prince Lectures and the Grounding of Legality in Order and Security

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2005

    Outstanding Book

    I attending Roger Berkowitz¿s reading of The Gift of Science and quickly purchased my own copy. While I am certainly not an ¿academic-type¿ the concepts in this book really got me thinking. Whenever I listen to a press conference or read anything related to law and justice I can¿t help but bounce the information off what I have learned in The Gift of Science. This brilliant book opened my eyes and gave me the tools to look at the American justice system in a whole new light.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2005

    From the Back Cover

    'This is a remarkably courageous book because it unwaveringly stays with fundamental questions about the nature of justice, without allowing issues of law, fairness, efficiency or legitimacy to serve as adequate substitutes for pursuing such questions. Berkowitz¿s intellectual courage is supported by a superb intelligence and a wide- ranging erudition.' ¿Uday Singh Mehta, author of Liberalism and Empire

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