Legal Philosophies Paperback – 9 Sep 2011
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About the Author
The Late J.W. Harris, B.C.L., M.A., Ph.D., former Professor of Law at the University of Oxford, Fellow of Keble College, Oxford
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
Overall a very good textbook.
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