Legalism deals with the area between political theory and jurisprudence. Its aim is to bridge the intellectual gulf separating jurisprudence from other kinds of social theory by explaining why, in the view of historians and political theorists, legalism has fallen short in its approach to both morals and politics. Judith Shklar proposes that, instead of regarding law as a discrete entity resting upon a rigid system of definitions, legal theorists should treat it, along with morals and politics, as part of an all-inclusive social continuum.
The first part of the book examines law and morals and criticizes the approach to morals of both the analytical positivists and the natural law theorists. The second part, on law and politics, deals with legalism as a political ideology that comes into conflict with other policies, particularly during political trials.
Incisively and stylishly written, the book constitutes an open challenge to reconsider the fundamental question of the relationship of law to society.
An excellent study… [Shklar] presents a skillful analysis and criticism of what legal scholar-philosophers…have written… Provocative—due to the author’s directness, confidence, and clarity—for she offers more intellectual excitement than can be found in textbooks on jurisprudence.
[Shklar] has written a startling and original essay criticizing most of contemporary legal philosophy… [This book] is written with a masterful style and a force and conviction rare in legal scholarship. The broad questions presented on its pages are fundamental to a proper conception of the tasks of legal philosophy… In particular, her analysis of legalism is a fully convincing explanation of the connection between law, and ethics and politics; and a demonstration of the need for law to come forth from its not-so-splendid solitude… The abundance of issues which Professor Shklar raises and examines brilliantly from her point of view make her book a constant pleasure to read. From any point of view, Legalism is a highly original and rewarding contribution to legal philosophy.
- 264 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-3/8 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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