Book Reviews

Modern Jurisprudence: A Philosophical Guide

Publisher: Hart Publishing

Author: Sean Coyle

Price: 16.99

Edition: 1st Edition (April 2014)

ISBN: 978-1-84946-024-8

Buy from Hart Publishing: Click Here

For many undergraduate students, the study of jurisprudence can be met with some puzzlement.  It is easier to understand why students need to learn legal principles like contract, tort or land law.  But why, the argument goes, do modern students need to study jurisprudence?  And just how will it be of any use as a practitioner?  The simple answer to these questions can be context; without understanding law, and its purpose, it can be difficult to understand why the law is what it is.  To help all students comes this first edition of Modern Jurisprudence: A Philosophical Guide from Professor Sean Coyle.  Its aim is simple but ambitious: to provide a concise and accessible guide to modern jurisprudence.

Written by an experienced academic, Sean Coyle (a professor from Birmingham Law School), Modern Jurisprudence: A Philosophical Guide is split into eleven chapters: justice, law and morality; origins of the western jurisprudential tradition; the emergence of the 'modern' political thought; images of law from Grotius to Kant; positive law, positive justice: Hart; justice in the 'real world': Dworkin; justice and the liberal state: Rawls; justice and the common good: Finnis; justice and legality: Fuller; justice and legal order: further reflections; and conclusions?

The main advantage of Modern Jurisprudence: A Philosophical Guide is that it provides a concise and accessible account, examined in an accessible and thorough way, of modern jurisprudence.  This makes it an ideal starting place for anyone interested in, or studying, legal philosophy.  By having such a text, the reader is given a real head start in considering the competing theories, and accounts, of modern legal and political thinking (which can often be difficult for many students).  However, Coyle simply does not analyse each theory; he (impressively) critically contrasts the views with other established legal theorists.

If you are just about to embark on studying modern jurisprudence, you should seriously consider reading Coyle's Modern Jurisprudence: A Philosophical Guide from cover to cover.  If you do, you will no doubt save considerable time further down the line and have a greater understanding of the issues.  It provides an impressively lucid, thorough and critical account of the main theories in just under 250 pages (and many of the texts analysed are often longer).  Its simple but ambitious aim to provide a concise and accessible guide to modern jurisprudence is easily achieved.  At just under 17, it is also excellent value for money.

Reviewed on 11 October 2015

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