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About the Author

James Bernard Murphy is Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, NH. His books include: The Moral Economy of Labor: Aristotelian Themes in Economic Theory (Yale University Press); The Philosophy of Positive Law: Foundations of Jurisprudence (Yale University Press); The Philosophy show more of Customary Law (Oxford University Press); and The Nature of Customary Law: Legal, Historical, and Philosophical Perspectives (co-edited with Amanda Perrreau-Saussine; Cambridge University Press). show less

Works by James Bernard Murphy


Common Knowledge



An interesting treatment of how several specific legal philosophers have handled the idea of "custom," with side excursions into what those efforts entail for the concept of "customary law," as well as to the common law. The author does a great job on the persons he focuses on (Suarez, Bentham, James Carter), but we aren't really told how he settled upon these individuals as representative of the problem of the book. That leaves the reader with a bit of a feeling of accidental and happenstance about the conclusions that are finally offered.

As for those conclusions, he observes that the relationship of law to custom is, at the least, complicated. Are they complementary or mutually exclusive? This book does a good job of mapping the controversy, but lacks any original discussion that would advance the problem.

On a side note, for an Oxford book there were a surprising number of textual gaffes that an editor should have caught. Most curious is that the Epilogue is in an entirely different, and smaller, font than the rest of the book. Never really seen that before. Again, odd for any publisher, but especially an Oxford title.
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dono421846 | Nov 16, 2022 |

How to Think Politically is an excellent introduction to political philosophers and philosophy. The book is made up of many small chapters, each describing an influential thinker. Not only is the philosopher’s ideas discussed, but he is also put into historical context. The book runs chronologically and, with few exceptions covers Western thinkers. This gives the reader a sense of the evolution of political thought. The thinkers cover a wide range of beliefs from peaceful God based governments and rules for leaders to the much more practical thinkers like the often misunderstood, Machiavelli, whose thinking on government puts him with some unexpected allies. Revolutionary thinkers from Mill to Marx, to Mao and Gandhi, provide a mix of an ideology some excepted in the West and others rejected. This is an excellent starting place for the future political scientist or philosophy student.… (more)
evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |



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