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McCoubrey & White's Textbook on Jurisprudence

McCoubrey & White's Textbook on Jurisprudence (5th edn)

James Penner and Emmanuel Melissaris
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date: 29 February 2024

p. 24015. Postmodern Legal Theorylocked

p. 24015. Postmodern Legal Theorylocked

  • J. E. PennerJ. E. PennerProfessor of Law, University College London
  •  and E. MelissarisE. MelissarisSenior Lecturer in Law, London School of Economics


This chapter first distinguishes between the modern and the postmodern conditions or eras with reference to the work by Jean François Lyotard, and then discusses two fundamental ideas underpinning modern law and legal theory: the rational and autonomous subject; and the clarity and objectivity of meaning of the legal text. Drawing on Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, it shows how postmodern thought questions these foundations of modernity, and, finally, discusses the practical significance of postmodern jurisprudence: its ability to provide answers to pressing questions of law and justice.

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