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Article
Of Persons and Property: The Politics of Legal Taxonomy
Dalhousie Law Journal. Volume 13, Number 1 (1990), p. 20-54.
  • David Cohen
  • Allan C. Hutchinson, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
1-1-1990
Abstract

To talk of law without politics or history is nonsensical. All lawyers must concede that what they do takes place in historical circumstances and has political consequences. Every piece of law-making and law-application is a governmental act, it relies on political authority and claims binding force. Moreover, all legal activity occurs within a particular historical context, it is intended to respond to or influence a past, existing or anticipated state of affairs. This means that the study of law must concern itself with politics and history generally: it must not confine itself to only the politics and history of law. To do otherwise would be to distort and trivialize any understanding of law. Within such a broad political and historical appreciation, the focus of inquiry is not so much on 'law' as on 'law-government' because the idea of law without government is almost oxymoronic. Law is not only a symbol and act of power, it is also a major component of the social context in which those symbols and acts of power acquire meaning, significance and effect.

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Citation Information
Cohen, David, and Allan C. Hutchinson. "Of Persons and Property: The Politics of Legal Taxonomy." Dalhousie Law Journal 13.1 (1990): 20-54.