Prof. Margaret Martin’s book explores legal positivism

Margaret MartinWestern Law professor Margaret Martin’s new book Judging Positivism is a critical exploration of the method and substance of legal positivism.

The book, published by Hart Publishing, Oxford, explores the manner in which theorists who adopt the dominant positivist paradigm ask a limited set of questions and offer an equally limited set of answers, artificially circumscribing the field of legal philosophy in the process.

Prior to its publication, Martin, an Associate Professor at Western Law since 2007, presented chapters of the book at the University of Oxford, University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University and McMaster University.

Judging Positivism primarily focuses on the writings of prominent legal positivist, Joseph Raz. Martin argues that Raz's theory has changed over time and that these changes Judging positivismhave led to deep inconsistencies and incoherencies in his account.

One re-occurring theme in the book is that Razian positivism collapses from within. In the process of defending his own position, Raz is led to support the views of many of his main rivals, namely, Ronald Dworkin, the legal realists and the normative positivists.

The broader vision of jurisprudential inquiry defended in this book re-connects philosophy with the work of practitioners and the worries of law's subjects, bringing into focus the relevance of legal philosophy for lawyers and laymen alike.   

Martin completed her PhD in 2006 at the University of Cambridge and holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSL from the University of Toronto. She teaches in the areas of Legal Philosophy, Constitutional Law and International Criminal Law and currently is a visiting fellow at Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge, and earlier this year, was a visiting fellow at the University of Toronto.