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Foundations of Law


Foundations of Law

by Adam MacLeod, Robert L. McFarland

Forthcoming August 2017

ISBN978-1-5310-0463-7
e-ISBN978-1-53100-464-4

Forthcoming Teacher's Manual

Tags: Introduction to Law, Legal History


Foundations of Law is designed to help law and pre-law students make sense of law in a changeful age. It is founded upon the conviction of the English jurist William Blackstone that students who intend to study law need both technical instruction in law and liberal education in the history and jurisprudential concepts of law. The book considers the enduring nature of law and its relationship to equity and justice with the assistance of the authors of what we today call the Great Books. It also emphasizes enduring aspects of legal practice: the role of logic; the meaning and importance of conscience and of due process; different approaches to textual interpretation; and the relation of law to other normative concepts (such as morality and religion) and to science (such as economics).

The book surveys classic writings concerning law and justice—for example, the works of Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas. It contains writings that are foundational to Anglo-American legal norms and institutions—Blackstone, Bentham, Locke, the Federalists, Lincoln, Holmes, and others. It includes helpful analytical insights from influential jurisprudence scholars—Austin, Hart, Hohfeld, Dworkin, and Finnis, among others. Most uniquely, it matches each of those writings with constitutions, declarations, statutes, judicial decisions, and other legal and political texts (even a letter from jail) that illustrate and reinforce the key lessons drawn from the great works. The book does not leave students adrift in abstractions. It provides a solid grounding for understanding and practicing law in a rapidly-changing world.

  • Combines technical instruction in law with liberal education in the history and jurisprudential concepts of law.
  • Provides a solid grounding in the enduring characteristics of law to enable students to understand and practice law in a rapidly-changing world.
  • Surveys the great books concerning law, equity, and justice.
  • Uniquely matches each great book excerpt with judicial decisions, statutes, proclamations, and other legal materials to illustrate how foundational concepts recur in contemporary legal norms and institutions and to illustrate and reinforce the key lessons drawn from the great works.
  • Emphasizes enduring aspects of legal practice: the role of logic; the meaning and importance of conscience and of due process; different approaches to textual interpretation; and the relation of law to other normative concepts (such as morality and religion) and to science (such as economics).
  • Surveys classic writings concerning law and justice—for example, the works of Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas.
  • Surveys writings that are foundational to Anglo-American legal norms and institutions—for example, the works of Blackstone, Bentham, Locke, the Federalists, Lincoln, and Holmes.
  • Includes helpful analytical insights from influential jurisprudence scholars—Austin, Hart, Hohfeld, Dworkin, and Finnis, among others.
  • Opens each chapter with reading questions to assist beginning students.
  • Follows readings with notes to direct more advanced students to additional reading and further lines of inquiry. 

Complimentary Copy RequestIf you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.


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