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The Pragmatism and Prejudice of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (eBook)

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This book investigates the extent to which various scholarly labels are appropriate for the work of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. As Louis Menand wrote, “Holmes has been called a formalist, a positivist, a utilitarian, a realist, a historicist, a pragmatist, (not to mention a nihilist).” Each of the eight chapters investigates one label, analyzes the secondary texts that support the use of the term to characterize Holmes’s philosophy, and takes a stand on whether or not the category is appropriate for Holmes by assessing his judicial and nonjudicial publications, including his books, articles, and posthumously published correspondences. The thrust of the collection as a whole, nevertheless, bends toward the stance that Holmes is a pragmatist in his jurisprudence, ethics, and politics. The final chapter, by Susan Haack, makes that case explicitly.

Edited by Seth Vannatta, this book will be of particular interest to students and faculty working in law, jurisprudence, philosophy, intellectual history, American Studies, political science, and constitutional theory.

This book investigates the extent to which various scholarly labels are appropriate for the work of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. As Louis Menand wrote, “Holmes has been called a formalist, a positivist, a utilitarian, a realist, a historicist, a pragmatist, (not to mention a nihilist).” Each of the eight chapters investigates one label, analyzes the secondary texts that support the use of the term to characterize Holmes’s philosophy, and takes a stand on whether or not the category is appropriate for Holmes by assessing his judicial and nonjudicial publications, including his books, articles, and posthumously published correspondences. The thrust of the collection as a whole, nevertheless, bends toward the stance that Holmes is a pragmatist in his jurisprudence, ethics, and politics. The final chapter, by Susan Haack, makes that case explicitly.

Edited by Seth Vannatta, this book will be of particular interest to students and faculty working in law, jurisprudence, philosophy, intellectual history, American Studies, political science, and constitutional theory.


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by alexander lian, brian butler, Susan Haack, Seth Vannatta, frederic r. kellogg, sarah woolwine, Allen Mendenhall, Catharine Wells, raff donelson

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