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This incisive book deals with the use of the criminal law to enforce morality, in particular sexual morality, a subject of particular interest and importance since the publication of the Wolfenden Report in 1957. Professor Hart first considers John Stuart Mill's famous declaration: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community is to prevent harm to others." During the last hundred years this doctrine has twice been sharply challenged by two great lawyers: Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, the great Victorian judge and historian of the common law, and Lord Devlin, who both argue that the use of the criminal law to enforce morality is justified. The author examines their arguments in some detail, and sets out to demonstrate that they fail to recognize distinction of vital importance for legal and political theory, and that they espouse a conception of the function of legal punishment that few would now share.
This book is the product of a major British Academy Symposium held in 2007 to mark the centenary of the birth of H.L.A. Hart, the most important legal philosopher and one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century. The book brings together contributions from seventeen of the world's foremost legal and political philosophers who explore the many subjects in which Hart produced influential work. Each essay engages in an original analysis of philosophical problems that were tackled by Hart, some essays including extended critical discussions of his major works: The Concept of Law, Punishment and Responsibility, Causation in the Law and Law, Liberty and Morality. All the main topics of Hart's philosophical writings are featured: general jurisprudence and legal positivism; criminal responsibility and punishment; theories of rights; toleration and liberty; theories of justice; and causation in the law.
Against the background of the law reform debates around sexuality in Britain and America, Bamforth examines what functions it is legitimate for the law to serve and how effective law can be in achieving social goals. He provides a new and cogent argument for protecting lesbian and gay rights through law, but is sceptical about how useful law can be in eradicating discriminatory social practices. This work sheds new light on the equal rights debate and raises issues of central importance to the role of law in society.
A new approach to the telling of legal history, devoid of jargon and replete with good stories, which will be of interest to anyone wishing to know more about the common law - the spinal cord of the English body politic.

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