The Law

The Law

The Law

The Law

Synopsis

Brings issues of legal theory to life by relating them to real problems in British politics. Questions about human rights, the rule of law, the unwritten constitution, the role of judges, law and politics and civil disobediance are discussed.

Excerpt

Students of British politics are often given the impression that there are two quite distinct enterprises going on in political science departments. There is the empirical and historical study of political life and political institutions-voting systems, electoral dealignment, the committee structure of the House of Commons and so on. And there is the theoretical and philosophical study of concepts and values-democracy, justice, rights, representation and authority. They are studied by different people, taught by different lecturers, in different parts of the curriculum; indeed they are more or less different disciplines. Theory is theory, and institutions are institutions, and never the twain shall meet.

We are basing this series of books on the assumption that that is a sterile and uninteresting way to teach political science. Of course there has got to be some sort of academic division of labour. But the issues that theorists teach are called political theory because they arise out of politics and they concern politics. You simply do not understand debates about justice or democracy or authority unless you see their relevance to contemporary political conflict-indeed, unless you see that they are exactly the sort of things that are at stake in political conflict. If you see those debates as simply the anatomy of concepts, you will, quite understandably, find it difficult to see why anyone should be interested. And the same is true if you see them as simply an excuse for reading old books! The theory of democracy is not studied simply because John Stuart Mill wrote about it in Considerations on Representative Government; rather, Mill's book is read because it contains a fund of insight that may help us to address real issues in political life more consistently, more clear-headedly and with a more sensitive awareness of the variety of interests and principles at stake.

The books in this series each take a major area or institution of British politics and explore the political theoretical issues which it raises. The objective of each volume is to introduce the institution

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