Philosopher Christopher Gray publishes monumental book on philosophy of law


by James Moore,
Political Science

A major scholarly achievement was celebrated recently at Lonergan University College. Over 40 colleagues, alumni and friends met on January 27 to celebrate the publication of Christopher Gray'sThe Philosophy of Law: An Encyclopedia (Garland Publishing, New York and London).

The publication of this work brings to completion a project begun eight years ago. It brings together 450 studies by 350 contributors from more than 30 countries. The subjects include historical studies, schools and methodologies, constitutional law, criminal law and private law, interpretation, rights, obligations and persons, and nearly 100 studies of individual jurists and philosophers of law.

Grey/bookAccording to Gray, the compilation of these volumes required three tasks of varying degrees of difficulty: the identification of the themes and the selection of the contributors best qualified to write on them, the pursuit of the writers to bring their articles to completion (the most difficult part of the project), and editing the contributions for publication (the most satisfying part).

Gray is pleased to observe that 82 of the contributors are Canadian, 26 are from Quebec and six are from Concordia. Twelve of the articles were written by Gray himself, and two were written by former students -- Jennifer Yhap on Hellenistic philosophy of law and Neal Wood on the 16th-century philosopher and jurist John Major. Three articles were written by colleagues: John Drysdale (Sociology and Anthropology) on Max Weber, James Moore (Political Science) on David Hume, and Ira Robinson (Religious Studies) on Moses Maimonides.

Gray observes that law and philosophy have always been closely linked, from the ancient Greeks, who connected nomos (law and convention) with physis (the nature of things) to the early middle ages, when the recovery of Justinian's Pandects by Irnerius provided the medium for university studies in philosophy in Bologna, then Paris, Oxford and Cambridge. Contemporary philosophers such as J.L. Austin and Jurgen Habermas continue to have recourse to the study of law to validate their philosophical insights.

He adds that the practice of law continues to fascinate the general public so much that only medicine can compete with it for drama -- ER vs. The Practice, and Diagnosis Murder vs. Law and Order. Viewers who seek deeper insights into the meaning of legal concepts will find themselves rewarded by the articles that make up The Philosophy of Law: An Encyclopedia.

Photo: Seen at Christopher Gray's book launch are Professor Gray, Professor DesirŽe Park and Kathleen Gray.

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