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Law as a Leap of Faith: Essays on Law in General
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Law as a Leap of Faith: Essays on Law in General

Price: $74.00
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Published Sept 2012 (OUP)
ISBN: 9780199695553. Hard Cover, 328 pages.

John Gardner 

  • Collects John Gardner's celebrated essays on the general philosophy of law, and two previously unpublished essays 
  • Cuts through the technicalities of many arguments in the field to engage directly with central philosophical problems, providing accessible and engaging reading for those new to the subject 
  • Unsettles the conventional divisions and textbook classifications that limit students' understanding of the subject, enriching the teaching literature available 

How do laws resemble rules of games, moral rules, personal rules, rules found in religious teachings, school rules, and so on? Are laws rules at all? Are they all made by human beings? And if so how should we go about interpreting them? How are they organized into systems, and what does it mean for these systems to have 'constitutions'? Should everyone want to live under a system of law? Is there a special kind of 'legal justice'? Does it consist simply in applying the law of the system? And how does it relate to the ideal of 'the rule of law'? These and other classic questions in the philosophy of law form the subject-matter of Law as a Leap of Faith.

In this book John Gardner collects, revisits, and supplements fifteen years of celebrated writings on general questions about law and legal systems - writings in which he attempts, without loss of philosophical finesse or insight, to cut through some of the technicalities with which the subject has become encrusted in the late twentieth century. Taking his agenda broadly from H.L.A. Hart's The Concept of Law (1961), Gardner shows how the key ideas in that work live on, and how they have been and can still be improved in modest ways to meet important criticisms - in some cases by concession, in some cases by circumvention, and in some cases by restatement. In the process Gardner engages with key ideas of other modern giants of the subject including Kelsen, Holmes, Raz, and Dworkin. Most importantly he presents the main elements of his own unique and refreshingly direct way of thinking about law, brought together in one place for the first time.

Readership: Students and scholars of legal philosophy 

John Gardner is Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford. He has also taught at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, the Australian National University, and the Universities of London, Texas, and Auckland. Called to the English Bar in 1988, he has been a Bencher of the Inner Temple since 2002. 

Table of Contents

Introduction 1: Law as a Leap of Faith 

2: Legal Positivism: 5 1/2 Myths 

3: Some Types of Law 

4: Can There be a Written Constitution? 

5: How Law Claims, What Law Claims

 6: Nearly Natural Law 

7: The Legality of Law 

8: On the Supposed Formality of the Rule of Law 

9: Hart on Legality, Justice, and Morality 

10: The Virtue of Justice, the Character of Law 

11: Law in General

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