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Book

Cover Understanding Jurisprudence
With a clear, engaging, and informal style, Understanding Jurisprudence is the perfect guide for students new to legal theory looking for a handy and stimulating starting point to this sometimes daunting subject. Key theories and theorists are introduced in a compact and practicable format, offering an accessible account of the central ideas without oversimplification. Further reading suggestions are included throughout, helping students to structure their research and navigate the jurisprudence’s extensive literature. Critical questions are also included in each chapter, to encourage students to think analytically about the law and legal theory, and the numerous debates that it generates. The author is an experienced teacher of jurisprudence and excels at providing a concise, student-friendly introduction to the subject, without avoiding the subtleties of this absorbing discipline. New to this, the book’s sixth edition, are: the most recent scholarship in several areas, including expanded discussions of theories of justice, globalization, and environmental protection, as well as a new section on judicial review and democracy. There are also updated suggested further reading lists and questions at the end of each chapter.

Chapter

Cover Understanding Jurisprudence

6. Legal realism  

This chapter first addresses the question: What are realists realistic about? It discusses how this movement had little time for ‘theory’, and regarded the essence of law as what courts actually do in practice. The leading exponents of American realism: Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, Karl Llewellyn, and Jerome Frank are discussed. They have been criticized for their obsession with courts, juries, lawyers and other features of the legal system, but are regarded as an important bridge to the sociological approach to law. The chapter then examines the Scandinavian realists: Alf Ross and Karl Olivecrona whose approach, while it is described as ‘realist’, is markedly different from their American counterparts. The relationship between Scandinavian realism and psychology is briefly considered.