Legal Theory at the End of the Millennium

Legal Theory at the End of the Millennium

Legal Theory at the End of the Millennium

Legal Theory at the End of the Millennium


This book is the fifty-first volume of Current Legal Problems and contains the now customary selection of high quality essays by a group of outstanding scholars. This volume gathers together a galaxy of stars from the academic firmament to provide in a particularly valuable and broad-rangingset of contributions a stimulating study of legal theory at the end of the millennium.


Modern English jurisprudence began life at University College London. The appointment of John Austin as the first professor is a defining moment in the history of English legal scholarship. His influence and Bentham's--whose associations with UCL are better known, if looser--remains potent even today. What Hart effected, a generation ago, was a reconstruction rather than a deconstruction. And even in an age when many jurisprudential flowers bloom, the positivism of Austin and Bentham, like a hardy perennial, remains deeply embedded within the garden of legal theory.

With the millennium approaching it was time to take stock. That it was also the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Bentham's birth made it fitting that Current Legal Problems should examine the contemporary state of legal theory. But this volume is neither an audit nor an agenda (though, it is true, many contributors interpreted their brief as requiring an assessment of the relationship between Bentham and their own theoretical position). It is rather an occasion to celebrate the vitality of thinking about law today.

The volume contains a lot of contributions about Bentham (in particular those by Twining and Schofield) but they are as much about his relevance to contemporary debates as they are exegeses on his vast corpus of work. And often they show him in unusual light, as for example Lacey's reading of Anarchical Fallacies through the prism of feminism. Or, as in Waldron 'Custom Redeemed By Statute', Bentham is used to explicate a concept, in this case custom.

Though the ghost of Bentham stalks this book and though he is 'appropriated' by so many of the schools of thought depicted in these essays, this is much more than a volume of Benthamite hagiography. Probably never before has there been as much writing about jurisprudential issues as there is today--and this volume reflects the variegated nature of the enterprise. And so, though classics like Hart and Kelsen are duly assessed (by Alexy and Postema, and by Stewart respectively) and the virtues, and even . . .

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