Cover: Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Utilitarian Jurisprudence, from Harvard University PressCover: Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Utilitarian Jurisprudence in E-DITION

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Utilitarian Jurisprudence

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674436091

Publication Date: 01/01/1984

223 pages


Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

In the pantheon of Supreme Court justices, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., has been celebrated as sui generis in thought and action. His legal interpretations have been judged to be distinctively American and drawn from Pragmatism. H. L. Pohlman enriches the domain of legal thought by claiming that Holmes’s jurisprudence was similar, in many respects, to that of the English Utilitarians. The hundred-year connection between English and American lawyers was not broken during the Justice’s years on the Court.

Pohlman uncovers the explicit similarities between Holmes and the English legal theorists in the fields of legal liability, sovereignty, obligation, theory of judicial decision making, and conception of the law. He probes both substantive and philosophical connections in demonstrating that Holmes was a contributing member of the Utilitarian tradition of jurisprudence. In doing so he throws new light on the views of John Austin and Jeremy Bentham, while reassessing the current interpretations of Holmes held by Grant Gilmore, Mark De Wolfe Howe, G. Edward White, and Morton White. His study also contributes to our ability to probe the validity of rule-based theories of a legal system and of legal obligation (taking exception to H. L. A. Hart and J. Raz) and to examine the merit of normative justificatory theories of judicial decision making (correcting Herbert Wechsler and Ronald Dworkin).

This book is a refreshing contribution to the swirling controversies now reshaping American legal studies and will interest lawyers, political scientists, and philosophers.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Book jacket: Vera Rubin: A Life, by Jacqueline Mitton and Simon Mitton, from Harvard University Press

Q&A with Jacqueline Mitton, coauthor of Vera Rubin: A Life

While astronomer Vera Rubin made significant contributions to our understanding of dark matter and championed the advancement of women in science, she is not that well known outside of the scientific community. HUP Executive Editor for Science, Janice Audet, spoke with Jacqueline Mitton, coauthor of Vera Rubin: A Life, about Rubin’s remarkable life and work and the writing of the book