Law's Quandary

Law's Quandary

by Steven D. Smith

Paperback(New Edition)

$35.00
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, July 25

Overview

This lively book reassesses a century of jurisprudential thought from a fresh perspective, and points to a malaise that currently afflicts not only legal theory but law in general. Steven Smith argues that our legal vocabulary and methods of reasoning presuppose classical ontological commitments that were explicitly articulated by thinkers from Aquinas to Coke to Blackstone, and even by Joseph Story. But these commitments are out of sync with the world view that prevails today in academic and professional thinking. So our law-talk thus degenerates into "just words"—or a kind of nonsense.

The diagnosis is similar to that offered by Holmes, the Legal Realists, and other critics over the past century, except that these critics assumed that the older ontological commitments were dead, or at least on their way to extinction; so their aim was to purge legal discourse of what they saw as an archaic and fading metaphysics. Smith's argument starts with essentially the same metaphysical predicament but moves in the opposite direction. Instead of avoiding or marginalizing the "ultimate questions," he argues that we need to face up to them and consider their implications for law.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674025738
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 09/30/2007
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Steven D. Smith is Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego and Co-Executive Director of the USD Institute for Law and Religion.

Table of Contents

Preface

Part I. Law and Metaphysics?

1. Just Words?

2. Ontological Dynasties

Part II. (How) Is Law for Real?

3. Does "the Law" Exist?

4. the Jurisprudence of Modernity

Part III. The Metaphysics of Legal Meaning

5. How Does Law Mean?

6. Author(s) Wanted

Part IV. Mind the Gap

7. Law in a Quandary

Epilogue: Confusion and Confession

Notes

Index

What People are Saying About This

Smith's treatment of the issues he addresses is outstanding. His discussion is consistently probing, thoughtful, and imaginative. Smith's range of reference is impressively broad--yet I never had the sense that he was trying to impress. His clarity--aided by his wonderfully engaging, and occasionally humorous, conversational style--is exemplary. But the enviable clarity/accessibility of Smith's writing should not obscure just how penetrating--I am tempted to say, brilliant--his commentary is. It may sound faintly ridiculous to say this, but I thought that this book was a jurisprudential page turner.

Michael J. Perry

Smith's treatment of the issues he addresses is outstanding. His discussion is consistently probing, thoughtful, and imaginative. Smith's range of reference is impressively broad--yet I never had the sense that he was trying to impress. His clarity--aided by his wonderfully engaging, and occasionally humorous, conversational style--is exemplary. But the enviable clarity/accessibility of Smith's writing should not obscure just how penetrating--I am tempted to say, brilliant--his commentary is. It may sound faintly ridiculous to say this, but I thought that this book was a jurisprudential page turner.
Michael J. Perry, Emory University School of Law, and author of Under God? Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy

John H. Garvey

Ordinary people assume that legal terms like freedom of speech have some real or true meaning. Most important legal theorists say there is no such thing. It is not unheard of for the sophisticated classes to reach conclusions at odds with common sense. But this creates a real problem for the stability of our legal system. Smith explores this quandary in a way that is wonderfully clear, honest, and funny. This is the best book I have read in several years.
John H. Garvey, Dean, Boston College Law School, and author of What Are Freedoms For?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews