Public Law and Political Theory

Public Law and Political Theory

Public Law and Political Theory

Public Law and Political Theory

Synopsis

Public Law and the Scientific Theory Public Law and Political Theory Interpretation in Public Law The Structures of Public Law Thought Foundations of Normativism Foundations of Functionalism Traditions of Public Law Thought Contemporary Thought in Public Law The Triumph of Liberal Normativism Public Law in the Face of the Future

Excerpt

This book originated in a rather different exercise. In 1986 I wrote a book called Local Government in the Modern State. There I developed a framework, loosely drawn from political science, to help me to make sense of the legal developments that were influencing the role of local government within our system of government. The framework was useful for that purpose but, by utilizing the perspectives of political science in order to try to understand developments in law, I was unable to reflect on the impact which these developments in turn had wrought on our traditions of public law. I therefore sought to remedy this deficiency by embarking on the task of writing another book, the objective of which was to address the recent experience of central-local government relations with the aim of raising issues concerning the nature of our system of public law.

After some years of working on this subject I had reached an impasse. It was not just the sheer volume of material with which I was required to deal, although that was difficult enough. The main problem was that I needed to construct some sort of framework by which to make sense of public law. I had tried to deal with this in the new book with an opening chapter addressing traditions of public law thought which could then provide a gauge for reflecting concerns about the specific material of the study. However, this chapter grew to unwieldy proportions. Eventually I decided to bite the bullet and write a book specifically on this subject. This is that book.

Despite its title the book should not be viewed as one which seeks simply to explore connections between two disciplines. Rather, it is an attempt to use methods and insights drawn from work in political theory to address what for me are the basic questions of public law. What is it that is distinctive about the subject? How might we attempt to characterize public law? In asking questions of this nature, issues which have all too frequently been either ignored or assumed in public law texts must be critically addressed. For this reason I have written the book with students of public law in mind; it is designed to be read in conjunction with, and in certain respects as an antidote to, the standard textbooks. Students of government . . .

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