This book provides a selective and somewhat cheeky account of prominent positions in legal theory, such as American legal realism, modern legal positivism, sociological systems theory, institutionalism and critical legal studies. It presents a relational approach to law and a new perspective on legal sources.
The book explores topics of legal theory in a playful manner. It is written and composed in a way that refutes the widespread prejudice that legal theory is a dreary subject, with a cast of characters that occasionally interact in order to illustrate the claims of the book.
Legal experts claim to know what the law is. Legal theory-or jurisprudence-explores whether such claims are warranted. The discipline first emerged at the turn of the 20th century, when the self-confidence of both legal scholarship and judicial craftsmanship became severely shattered, but the crisis continues to this day.
Alexander Somek is Professor of Legal Philosophy at the Institute of Legal Philosophy at the University of Vienna School of Law, Austria.
1. Legal Knowledge
2. Mild and Wild Formalism
3. American Legal Realism
4. Modern Legal Positivism
5. The Demise of Modern Legal Positivism
6. Objective Spirit
8. The Legal Relation
This book is erudite, provocative and insightful. Somek evinces complete mastery of the diverse traditions in legal philosophy as he advances a novel account of the nature of legal knowledge. His work is compelling, engaging, and without equal in contemporary legal theory. This book is a must read. * Dennis Patterson, Professor of Law and Philosophy, Rutgers University, USA * Somek's Knowing What the Law Is is the best introduction to the philosophy of law to date. It tackles the deepest problems with a 'jaunty irony' which will at the same time engage newcomers and challenge the long initiated. * David Dyzenhaus, University Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Toronto, Canada * Alexander Somek, at the height of his powers, has already enjoyed a long and distinguished career. He is, unlike most of us, altogether at home in both worlds - the Anglophone world with its myopia and the Continental European world with its vast perspectives but, all too often, with analysis that falls short of the mark. Somek brings the best of both worlds together, and this is abundantly clear in his new book. * Stanley L Paulson, Co-Director, Hans Kelsen Research Centre, Germany *
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