A Constitutional and Legal History of England

By Goldwin Smith | Go to book overview
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The State and the Citizen


THERE have been many attempts by students of jurisprudence to examine the content of the law as it is and the law as it ought to be. Through the long history of man various standards of justice have appeared and slowly fallen into the shadows. Justice has obviously meant different things to different minds at different times. There have also been numerous expedients for the attainment of equity and justice in various ages and in contrasting social systems.

In our own age, several political theories, contributions to jurisprudence, and critical studies of sovereignty have had their arguments and conclusions buttressed by the use of new criteria based upon the careful consideration of psychological, sociological, and economic factors in human behavior. More and more knowledge about the nature of man and the consequences of human conduct has resulted in the opening of new roads to scientific investigation and new conclusions in jurisprudence and its related fields. Meanwhile, we still have all manner of ideas about the origins, ends and purposes of law derived from the facts and fictions at our command.

The questions and the answers are many. What, for instance, is a just law? Ought just laws to be adapted to changing human wants? Should legal rules be judged empirically with reference to the total aspects of the society in which they exist? When is the content of a rule of law objectively justified? What is the rationale of the so-called "binding force" of law? What principles may be derived from the idea of a social ideal?

Was Dean Roscoe Pound justified in his concept of law as "continually more efficacious social engineering"? Or is the rationalism of the


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A Constitutional and Legal History of England


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