Philosophy of Law: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition)

ISBN : 9780199687008

Raymond Wacks
168 Pages
115 x 174 mm
Pub date
Feb 2014
Very Short Introductions


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  • A lively and accessible introduction to the social, moral, and cultural foundations of law
  • Takes a broad scope spanning philosophy, law, politics, economics, and discusses a wide range of topics including women's rights, racism, and the environment
  • Approaches the great debates and controversies with clarity by avoiding technical language
  • Reveals the intriguing and challenging nature of legal philosophy

New to this Edition:

  • Incorporates the highly significant works of Ronald Dworkin, Scott Shapiro, John Finnis, and Neil McCormick
  • Includes a new section on legal realism
  • Includes new material on historical and anthropological jurisprudence
  • Further reading section has been revised and updated

The concept of law lies at the heart of our social and political life. Legal philosophy, or jurisprudence, explores the notion of law and its role in society, illuminating its meaning and its relation to the universal questions of justice, rights, and morality. 

In this Very Short Introduction Raymond Wacks analyses the nature and purpose of the legal system, and the practice by courts, lawyers, and judges. Wacks reveals the intriguing and challenging nature of legal philosophy with clarity and enthusiasm, providing an enlightening guide to the central questions of legal theory.

In this revised edition Wacks makes a number of updates including new material on legal realism, changes to the approach to the analysis of law and legal theory, and updates to historical and anthropological jurisprudence. 
"With an admirable and elegant economy of expression - which compromises neither subtlety nor nuance - Ray Wacks has written in Philosophy of Law: A Very Short Introduction, a juristic gem that not only shines with clarity but sparkles with insight on topics as diverse as natural law, rights theory, utilitarianism, the sociology of the law, critical legal studies and law-and-economics. An indispensable introduction for the student of legal philosophy, as well as a sound and reliable guide for the seasoned scholar, Wacks' Philosophy of Law makes a knock-down case, concisely and capaciously, for the absolute centrality of jurisprudence to the study of law." - Professor William MacNeil, Griffith Law School


1: Natural law
2: Legal positivism
3: Dworkin: the moral integrity of law
4: Rights and justice
5: Law and society
6: Critical legal theory
7: Understanding law: a very short epilogue
Further reading

About the author: 

Raymond Wacks, Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Theory
Raymond Wacks is Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Theory. His areas of interest are legal theory, privacy, and human rights, and he has published numerous books and articles on various aspects of law, including Understanding Jurisprudence: An Introduction to Legal Theory (OUP, 2012), Law: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2008), and Privacy: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2010).

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