Understanding Jurisprudence: An Introduction to Legal Theory / Edition 1

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Overview


What is law? Does it have a purpose? What is its relationship with justice? Do we have a moral duty to obey the law? These sorts of questions lie at the heart of jurisprudence. Moreover, every substantive or 'black letter' branch of the law raises questions about its own meaning and function. The law of contract cannot be properly understood without an appreciation of the concepts of rights and duties. The law of tort is directly related to several economic theories of compensation. The criminal law is inextricably linked to philosophies of punishment?

Understanding Jurisprudence explores these problems and provides an engaging introduction to the central issues of legal theory. The book navigates the reader through legal philosophy's fundamental concepts, concerns, and controversies.

An experienced teacher of jurisprudence and distinguished writer in the field, Professor Wacks adopts an approach that is easy to follow and understand without avoiding the complexities and subtleties of the subject. Students of law, politics, philosophy, and other social sciences will find this an ideal guide to the essential themes of contemporary jurisprudence.

Online Resource Centre

A free online resource accompanies the book and provides the following resources:

Analysis of current controversies of a jurisprudential nature such as current legal and moral controversies and political debates An additional chapter providing guidance and advice on the study of jurisprudence An interactive glossary of key terms relating to legal theory Further reading, including links to full text journal articles Questions and answers Useful Web links to support learning

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199272587
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/7/2005
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 390
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond Wacks is Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Theory at the University of Hong Kong.

His major areas of interest are legal theory, and human rights, in particular the protection of privacy, on which he is a leading international authority. In March 1997 he was awarded a higher doctorate in law (LLD) by the University of London for his publications on privacy and legal theory.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures

1 Introduction 1

2 Law and morals 12

3 Classical legal positivism 69

4 Modern legal positivism 93

5 Law as integrity 141

6 Legal realism 172

7 Law and social theory 193

8 Historical and anthropological jurisprudence 235

9 Justice 254

10 Rights 279

11 The duty to obey the law 318

12 Punishment 325

13 Critical legal theory 337

14 Feminist and critical race theory 358

Glossary 380

Index 385

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2008

    READ IT QUICKLY FROM PAGE TO PAGE!

    It is that sort of book! It¿s great to have a reasonably slim volume on jurisprudence and legal theory which attains the right level for the reader. Professor Wacks has always produced thought-provoking works and this one is no exception as an invaluable stimulus to learning at the right level. Wacks describes the concept of law as lying at the heart of our social and political life, to give it mass audience interest even though some learners feel forced to studying jurisprudence which they think is `all about politics, anyway¿! Raymond Wacks dispels these concerns, saying that much of the turgid prose we have on jurisprudence is ¿an impenetrable thicket to all but the professional jurist¿ but therein lies the problem- making the subject interesting to those who dislike considering this area of our human existence. Rightly, this is `unashamedly a book for students¿ and it works, not as a textbook, but very much the link between the formal textbook and the myriad of notes we take when attending lectures. The problem I always found with jurisprudence was the huge number of references to be looked at, from which I needed to make a selection, for a reasonable essay answer. In the days before regular use of the internet that meant leaning heavily on `Lloyd¿ (becoming `Lloyd & Freeman¿) and the specific essays of jurists like Austin, Raz, Hart, Dworkin and Rawls, to name but a few. What Wacks has done is link his main text with the main jurist authorities by name depending on the importance of the points they make, and then adding questions, detailed notes and excellent further reading. What I would like to see are web links as well (probably because I am lazy) but it would help to go directly to those sources I would wish to quote from. To take an example, when examining social theory years ago before the book came out, I quoted Habermas in an essay but had to actually get his book to make the point, which took up a lot of time. Internet access today gives us the information at our fingertips and I would envisage web links becoming an important additional tool as long as the learners do not abuse it in their stated bibliographies, as a quick way out of their labours! There are 12 main chapters covering the topics one would revise for the exams, and there is a most useful short glossary at the back with an index which relies heavily on named jurists and is equally effective for cross referencing. Professor Wacks has set up a simple structure for the book, which will celebrate 20 years of germination shortly. His chapter questions are the key to examination success centering on: 1. Identification of the central problems in each of the areas analysed 2. The provision of fodder for reflection and discussion in seminars or study groups and 3. Giving assistance to learners when revising for exams or assessments. I like this approach which reflects modern teaching practice well. When reading the Preface, I was reminded of lecturer and casebook compiler Tony Weir¿s naming of his two cats as ¿Donoghue¿ and ¿Stevenson¿ (needless to say, he taught Tort at Cambridge!) and I wondered idly whether Wacks¿ doves `Lily¿ and `Willy¿ should be renamed as `Dworkin¿ and `Rawls¿ for the helpful pointers they gave Professor Wacks during his writing deliberations! He concludes his introductory remarks to the book by stating his principle objective as pointing learners in the right direction, ¿soaring above needless deviation, mystification and impediment- not unlike my discerning doves¿. I note it was written in Umbria, Italy, so that explains a few things about his muse and proofreading technique. I am very grateful to Wacks for this book and I was touched by some comments he made which reminded me of my teaching practice when he writes ¿the perplexed and occasionally bewildered faces of my long-suffering students over the years have been in my mind¿s eye throughout the writing of the page

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