Law in Civil Society
Richard Dien Winfield
Law in Civil Society advances a new and comprehensive theory of how legal institutions should be reformed to uphold the property, family, and economic rights of individuals in civil society. In so doing, it offers a powerful challenge to the dominant legal theories and practices espoused by liberalism, positivism, natural law, and critical legal thought.
Winfield argues against the prevailing assumptions of legal philosophers who dogmatically embrace formal or historical conceptions of law. True law, he contends, must be constructed within the context of the different spheres of rights and ultimately can only exist within a civil society committed to self-determination and community.
“Winfield raises extremely interesting questions; and . . . the book's articulation of, and stimulus to think about, these questions is ample reward. . . . Even those who won’t agree with Winfield’s Hegelian account of law can learn from his ambitious and inspired example of legal and social criticism.”
—American Political Science Review
“Recommended reading for anyone interested in—or worried about—Hegel and the law. Its provocative treatment of timely legal issues makes it an appropriate selection for courses on legal philosophy or alternative legal theories.”
—Owl of MinervaSee all reviews...
“Winfield’s illuminating study provides a genuine alternative to the reigning theories and approaches in the philosophy of law. His unique perspective is bound to provoke thoughtful debate and advance our understanding of the subject. A well written and welcome addition to the field.”
—Robert Berman, author of Categorical Justification: Normative Argumentation in Hegel’s Practical Philosophy
“Winfield’s theses are ambitious, challenging, and provocative. His work merits and rewards a close study and should be a welcome addition to the collection of every philosopher of law.”
—Raymond Belliotti, author of Justifying Law: The Debate over Foundations, Goals, and Methods and Good Sex: Perspectives on Sexual Ethics
“An outstanding and important work at the cutting edge of modern scholarship. Winfield’s work has the same timbre and role in legal theory as Rawls’s work has in the philosophic investigation of justice. It is the book Hegel would have written had he lived in the 1990s, knowing what we know about the political effort of state socialist regimes and the intellectual effort of the American legal realists to do away with the rule of law. It will be tremendously useful for graduate programs in political science, courses in legal theory and jurisprudence in law schools, and undergraduate seminars in modern political and legal thought.”
—Arthur Jacobson, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva UniversitySee fewer reviews...
Working from these fundamental premises, he analyzes in detail a rich array of important legal issues: fair access to legal representation, the rationale for jury trials, appropriate distinctions between civil and criminal legal procedures, the controversies pitting common law versus codification and adversarial versus inquisitorial systems of trial, and the relationship between civil society and the state.
Much inspired by Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Winfield's study offers the most convincing critique yet of that renowned philosopher's work and, in the process, provides a more complete and coherent conception of law than Hegel himself articulated. Provocative and highly instructive, the book should attract scholars, teachers, and students in legal and political philosophy and anyone else with an abiding interest in the foundations of Western law.