The author has an unusually wide range of expertise in positive law, legal history, legal theory and moral philosophy. His command of each area works to enrich his writing on the others. Three other works of his, all published by Oxford University Press, are currently available:
This short introductory book of a little over a hundred pages is designed for young people who may be thinking of taking up a legal career or at any rate studying law and for non-lawyers who would like to have an overall view of the way law functions in the western legal tradition. It is written in simple but accurate language, clear but untechnical. It outlines the key problems of constitutional law and of the law of property, treaties, crimes and torts. It deals with the importance in law of forms, procedures and interpretation and explains how law relates to government, history and justice. It has been translated into Arabic and Ukrainian and is being translated into Chinese.
Perhaps the authors most famous book is this joint work with H.L.A. (Herbert) Hart, first published in 1959 and revised in 1985. It has been translated into Japanese. It immediately aroused and has for forty years retained the interest of both philosophers and lawyers. Its starting-point is that courts in determining legal responsibility often employ common-sense notions of causation. It makes explicit what these notions are and relates them to the causal theories of Hume, Mill, Collingwood and, more recently, Mackie. It highlights the areas in which legislatures and courts employ non-causal criteria in fixing responsibility in tort, contract and criminal law and the reasons why they do so. In the end it defends the centrality of the common-sense view against causal minimalists who identify causal connection with sine qua non and causal maximalists who would make causal connection a necessary and sufficient condition of responsibility. It outlines a rationale of holding people responsible for their actions and the outcomes of their actions which relates responsibility to the identity and character of the person concerned.
This is a collection of some of the authors essays on a variety of topics in legal theory and philosophy. They include chapters on how law, a system of state-organised violence, can create obligations; on what groups are, given that all law is the law of a group; on why Kelsen was right in supposing that a legal system must rest on a Basic Norm, but for the wrong reasons; on whether all laws are normative (they are not); on how far there is a duty to obey the law (in so far as there is, it is based on necessity); on why no valid argument can be derived from a hypothetical social contract; on what ownership consists of (a famous essay) and on why the existence of a right of property does not rule out a policy of redistribution; why there can be rights against society, such as the right to rebel, as well as rights derived from social institutions; and on why regard for freedom does not stand in the way of laws requiring people to assist others in an emergency.