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Western legal theory: History, concepts, and perspectives

Zimmermann, A. (2013) Western legal theory: History, concepts, and perspectives. LexisNexis Butterworths, Chatswood, New South Wales.


Legal theory involves not only analytical skills and substantive knowledge, but also the development of a deeper knowledge of the nature of laws in general. Although most legal theory books tend to put law together with politics, law is linked not only with a society's politics but also with its moral values and with its historical experience. Since we are the heirs to our own legal traditions, and the current law is basically a product of these influences, to comprehend the real nature of our legal systems we need to know how they came to be and what they are in a more profound, axiological sense.

In a general sense, law takes its substance from history, custom, economic theory, philosophic notions, morals and religion. Yet, the study of law may become limited in its own narrow purview, isolated as it can be from everything that really makes it more interesting. To counter the perceived insularity, this book proposes to connect the subject of law with a broader range of social disciplines, to get a rounded sense of what law is and how it works in society. The book is designed to enable its readers to more fully appreciate law from a holistic perspective that encompasses a significant breadth of ideas regarding the nature of law in Western societies. Topics range from the particularities of legal positivism to the universality of natural law theory, and all stops in between: evolutionary legal theory, legal realism, Marxist jurisprudence, libertarian jurisprudence, feminist jurisprudence, and so forth. By providing a broad account of these leading themes and traditions in Western legal theory, I trust this book is able to provide a general account of all the leading schools of legal thought, tracing their origins, revealing their philosophical underpinnings, and summarising their historical contexts.

Publication Type: Book
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
Publisher: LexisNexis Butterworths
Copyright: Reed International Books Australia
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