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    How to write a positivist legal history: lessons from Blackstone and J.F. Stephen

    Menis, Susanna (2021) How to write a positivist legal history: lessons from Blackstone and J.F. Stephen. Histories 1 (3), pp. 169-183. ISSN 2409-9252.

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    Abstract

    This paper is about the shaping of the law understood as a positivist enterprise. Positivist law has been the object of contentious debate. Since the 1960s and with the surfacing of revisionist histories it has been suggested that the abstraction of the doctrine of criminal law is due to its categorisation in early histories. However, it is argued here that positivism was hardly an intentional master plan of autocratic social control. Rather, it is important to recognise that historians do not provide a value-free recount of history, and that the writings of Blackstone and Stephen were shaped by the styles of writing typical of their time. Taking these scholars not as mere a-historical writers but reflecting on the fact that they inevitably ‘functioned’ as conduits of their own social practice opens an inquiry into the social response to a social need which was already under way long before Blackstone and after Stephen.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Positivist law, histories of law, Blackstone; J.F. Stephen, criminal law
    School: School of Law > Law
    Depositing User: Susy Menis
    Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2021 09:42
    Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 18:45
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/45332

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