What Professor Rodes calls classic problems of jurisprudence are the ones that dominated the subject from the mid-nineteenth century until the recent past — definitions of legal concepts and of law itself, the place of moral principles in legal reasoning, the meanings of words used in law, the relation between rights and remedies, and the tension between using law to make things happen and using law to teach people how to live together. Rodes argues that answers to these problems must constitute the building blocks of any jurisprudential theory.
In the book, he provides a succinct discussion of each problem, followed by a set of cases whose decision depends on what solution one adopts for that problem. There are real and hypothetical cases, personal experiences, and news items. There are reported cases from 1313 to 1993, legislative materials from fourth century Romans to twenty-first century Canadians. Anyone who wants to know how jurisprudential questions affect that actual making and application of laws will find ample material for reflection here.
After teaching jurisprudence for more than forty years, Rodes has definite opinions on all these questions, and he is not shy about expressing them. But he presents alternative views fairly and respectfully. “My object throughout,” he says, “is to present the problems, not my solutions to them.”