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The Ideal Element In Law

Roscoe Pound

Publication Year: 2012

Roscoe Pound, former dean of Harvard Law School, delivered a series of lectures at the University of Calcutta in 1948. In these lectures, he criticized virtually every modern mode of interpreting the law because he believed the administration of justice had lost its grounding and recourse to enduring ideals.

Now published in the U.S. for the first time, Pound’s lectures are collected in Liberty Fund’s The Ideal Element in Law, Pound’s most important contribution to the relationship between law and liberty.

The Ideal Element in Law was a radical book for its time and is just as meaningful today as when Pound’s lectures were first delivered. Pound’s view of the welfare state as a means of expanding government power over the individual speaks to the front-page issues of the new millennium as clearly as it did to America in the mid-twentieth century.

Pound argues that the theme of justice grounded in enduring ideals is critical for America. He views American courts as relying on sociological theories, political ends, or other objectives, and in so doing, divorcing the practice of law from the rule of law and the rule of law from the enduring ideal of law itself.

Roscoe Pound is universally recognized as one of the most important legal minds of the early twentieth century. Considered by many to be the dean of American jurisprudence, Pound was a former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nebraska and served as dean of Harvard Law School from 1916 to 1936.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xviii

Roscoe Pound (born on October 27,1872, in Lincoln, Nebraska; died on July 1,1964, in Cambridge, Massachusetts), practically unknown among the general American population today, was the most famous American jurisprudential thinker of the first half of the twentieth century. He was also the greatest twentieth-century dean of the Harvard Law School ...

Table of Cases

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pp. xix-xxvii

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I. Is There an Ideal Element in Law?

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pp. 1-31

... Historically the oldest and longest continued use of the term 'law' in juristic writing is to mean the aggregate of laws, the whole body of the legal precepts which obtain in a given politically organized society. This meaning was generally assumed in definition of law from the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century. Law was an aggregate oflaws ...

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II. Natural Law

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pp. 32-65

Law as a body of authoritative grounds of or guides to decision and administrative action under a legal order, as has been said in the first lecture, is made up of three elements: A precept element, a body of authoritative norms, i.e., models or patterns of decision in adjusting relations and ordering conduct, a technique element, an authoritative ...

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III. Law and Morals

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pp. 66-108

Throughout the world today law, legal institutions, and justice according to law have been under attack for a generation. People are dissatisfied with law and have been willing to try experiments in government without law because they have felt that the law was not operating lawfully. Especially in dealing with the many new questions and providing for newly ...

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IV. Rights, Interests, and Values

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pp. 109-139

A right is a juristic concept.1 Such concepts are to be distinguished from legal concepts. Legal concepts are legally defined categories into which facts may be put, whereupon a series of rules, principles, and standards become legally applicable.2 Juristic concepts are not prescribed and defined by law as legal concepts are. They are worked out ...

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V. The End of Law: Maintaining the Social Status Quo

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pp. 140-170

We turn now to the end or purpose of law, both as legal order and as a body of authoritative norms, i.e., models or patterns of conduct, of decision of controversies, and of predictions or advice by counsellors; or, in other words, to theories of justice.1 ...

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VI. Promotion of Free Self-Assertion: 1. The Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century

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pp. 171-199

In an exposition of the radical change in juristic thought, beginning in the sixteenth-century jurists everywhere, of the ideal of a society promoting and assuring a maximum of free individual self-assertion instead of the idea which had been developed in Greek philosophy and Roman law and had governed in the Middle Ages, three points have to be noted ...

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VII. Promotion of Free Self-Assertion: 2. Nineteenth Century to the Present

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pp. 200-229

A characteristic juristic achievement of the nineteenth century1 was the setting off of jurisprudence as a separate science. This was the culmination of a development which began in the sixteenth century in the emancipation of jurisprudence from theology. Up to the seventeenth century, jurisprudence and politics were treated along with theology as ...

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VIII. Maintaining and Furthering Civilization

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pp. 230-256

We have seen that at the end of the nineteenth century and in the beginning of the present century there was a definite shift in juristic thought away from the idea of promoting and maintaining the fullest free individual self-assertion as the end of law. Throughout the last century that idea was all but universally accepted by jurists substantially as ...

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IX. Class Interest and Economic Pressure: The Marxian Interpretation

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pp. 257-287

One phase of the movement away from the nineteenth-century schools near the end of that century was the economic interpretation of legal history, and so, in the reign of historical jurisprudence, economic theory of law. For a time it did not develop a distinct school of jurists, but later, under the influence of positivist mechanical sociology, NeoKantian ...

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X. Later Forms of Juristic Realism

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pp. 288-320

In the United States economic determinism ran into psychological realism and skeptical realism and largely merged in the latter. But economic realism has tended to have more of a positive program than the other two. ...

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XI. The Humanitarian Idea

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pp. 321-347

Legal history shows a continually widening circle of recognized interests and continually more effective means of securing the interests recognized. Two conspicuous examples of recognition and securing of interests theretofore unknown to the law, in the two generations since I was admitted to the bar in 1890, will suffice for illustration. The "right of ...

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XII. The Authoritarian Idea

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pp. 348-370

When in 1897 Mr. Justice Holmes, having begun when editor of the American Law Review1 in the analytical school, by a method of logical analysis of legal precepts as authoritative imperatives prescribed by those exercising the powers of a politically organized society, and then in 1881 (in his Lowell lectures on the common law)2 moved to the ...

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pp. 371-373

It may well be asked why in lecturing in India upon a general topic of the science of law I have gone so much into American experience, cited American decisions, state and federal, so extensively and devoted so much space to legal problems with which courts and legislators and jurists have dealt in America. ...


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pp. 375-385

Bibliography of Works Cited

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pp. 387-414


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pp. 415-432

Publication Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9781614878506
E-ISBN-10: 1614878501
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865973268

Page Count: 454
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: None