Scholars of the Law: English Jurisprudence from Blackstone to Hart

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NYU Press, 1996 - Law - 262 pages
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Can a discipline that has become intensely specialized tell us anything about the world we live in? Or does it render itself socially irrelevant? These questions are at the heart of Richard A. Cosgrove's history of jurisprudence in England.
Cosgrove's account begins with the emergence of the positivist belief that jurisprudence can solve the truly important social issues of the day and leads us through the gradual divorce of legal theory from legal history. Legal theory in the twentieth century, argues Cosgrove, has become narrow and abstract, irrelevant to the daily practice of the law. Contemporary theory, ever anxious to debunk elitism, ironically has become elitist itself. Cosgrove outlines an escape from this trap: jurisprudence must return to its interdisciplinary roots and draw upon economics, politics, and sociology. In short, theory and practice must be recombined.
Cosgrove charts the history of English jurisprudence through its key figures: William Blackstone, Jeremy Bentham, John Austin, Henry Maine, Thomas Erskine Holland, and H. L. A. Hart. Through his careful, insightful scholarship and unpretentious prose, Cosgrove distinguishes the contributions of these theorists and clarifies their general move toward specialization.
  

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Can a discipline that has become intensely specialized tell us anything about the world we live in? Or does it render itself socially irrelevant? These questions are at the heart of Richard A. Cosgrove's history of jurisprudence in England. Cosgrove's account begins with the emergence of the positivist belief that jurisprudence can solve the truly important social issues of the day and leads us through the gradual divorce of legal theory from legal history. Legal theory in the twentieth century, argues Cosgrove, has become narrow and abstract, irrelevant to the daily practice of the law. Contemporary theory, ever anxious to debunk elitism, ironically has become elitist itself. Cosgrove outlines an escape from this trap: jurisprudence must return to its interdisciplinary roots and draw upon economics, politics, and sociology. In short, theory and practice must be recombined. 

Contents

The Intersection
21
The Light of Utility
51
The Matter of Jurisprudence
89
Historical Jurisprudence
119
Law and Morality
179
Eight Conclusion
207
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Richard A. Cosgrove is Professor of History at the University of Arizona.

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