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Legal Philosophies [Paperback]

J. W. Harris
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: £26.99
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Book Description

22 May 1997
Legal Philosophies has been written to provide a clear guide to the main topics in a jurisprudence or legal theory course with the novice in mind. It provides summaries of the pertinent arguments within these topics, and of the views of leading theorists. This new edition takes a look at the emergence of 'Critical Legal Studies' and 'Feminist Jurisprudence', whilst there are new sections on 'Moral Truth' and 'Communitarianism' (a revived theoretical approach).

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: OUP; 2 edition (22 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0406507163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0406507167
  • Product Dimensions: 19.5 x 14.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

The Late J.W. Harris, BCL, MA, PhD, former Professor of Law at the University of Oxford, Fellow of Keble College, Oxford

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific! The perfect introduction. 22 April 2003
Harris' Legal Philosophies is a marvellous work. I take up the earlier reviewer's claim that this book is a little confusing; far from it: Legal Philosophies is a clear, lucid, pithy and witty introduction to a fascinating, if often difficult subject. Legal philosophy can be confusing; Harris' approach makes it accessible.
Harris' scope and ability to draw on primary and secondary sources is tremendous. He covers the Anglo-American "canon" of authors that is Hart, Dworkin and Finnis, surveys many schools of thought, including, inter alia legal realism, legal science (he is particularly impressive on Kelsen) and critical legal studies, and provides balanced knowledge and insightful commentary on several major jurisprudential issues: duty to obey the law, the rational behind punitive justice and the relationship between law and morality.
There is no better introduction or general guide to legal philosophy. I advise anyone with an interest in law or political ideas to purchase a copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good in places but unclear overall 18 Aug 2009
'Legal philosophies' is a book which initially deals with its principal topics intelligibly and clearly. The book seems to take up many of the standard topics of similar jurisprudence introductions with care and attention to the key texts. The problem is that later on when arguments become more intricate the style, instead of becoming clearer, is muddied with looser rhetorical reasoning. Often arguments are promised and then only alluded to or else obscured by a number of rhetorical questions which have the effect of overcomplicating the subject matter and leaving the reader unable to prioritise the issues under analysis.

As someone relatively new to legal philosophy (but not philosophy in other areas) I found this book to be singularly frustrating for its occasional descent into a style-over-substance approach and opaque reasoning. The book does better in treating debates over more general Jurisprudential topics (a quality noted by another reviewer) as opposed to individual theorists, though this shortfall made it almost useless to me.

Perhaps the more seasoned legal theorist would be able to extract virtue from 'legal philosophies' but this does not redeem its value as an introductory text--which it avowedly is. I recommend Jurisprudence: Theory and Context by Brian Bix as a much clearer alternative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 8 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First rate overview of the subject
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4.0 out of 5 stars Big Dipper! 3 May 2010
This is a really good book for 'dipping' into certain topics and philosophical ideas. The paragraphs are kept short and Harris uses analogies where appropriate to try and illustrate what can often be difficult areas of legal theory/philosophies. It can be 'wordy' at times but is generally fantastic if you are looking for a solid introduction on any one topic. If you do decide to read more on any given area, it helpfully includes a reference section at the end of each chapter allowing you to research in more depth, at your leisure.

Overall a very good textbook.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting if not somewhat Confusing 29 Dec 1998
By A Customer
An intriguing insight into the history of legal philosophies. Perhaps a little advanced for the young lawyer but certianly an indepth study of Jurisprudence.
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