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date: 25 January 2021

(p. v) Preface

(p. v) Preface

Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and companions are all the rage in philosophical publishing these days, and the philosophy of law certainly has its share. It was not our intention to add to the growing list of titles. Rather, we wanted to put together a volume of work on the main topics in the philosophy of law that not only reported on the state of the art, but contributed to it as well.

We provided the authors with very simple instructions: give us your ‘take’ on the chosen topic. Ideally we wanted the chapters to canvass some of the major issues in the field and some of the prominent approaches to such issues. But we also wanted these surveys to serve as points of departure for the authors' own views. We realized that to complete such assignments, the authors would need significantly more freedom and space than encyclopedia entries or journal articles typically allow. Accordingly, we permitted the authors to write entries of any size up to 15,000 words. While most made it within that limit, several authors went significantly over, and we let these bursts of exuberance stand.

The chapters, therefore, do not aim to be comprehensive and are intentionally distinctive, as is the Handbook itself. Just as the authors made no effort to cover every significant issue and position, we did not attempt to include an entry on every worthwhile topic or major school of thought in the philosophy of law—and for several reasons. First, though we have produced a large book of many pages, there were space limitations none the less. The size of each chapter significantly limited the number of entries we could include. Secondly, certain important jurisprudential topics have been extensively explored in the literature in recent years and we did not believe that additional coverage would be profitable (jurisprudence does not need another essay on the normative foundations of law and economics, for example). Thirdly, a few individuals who had committed to write entries had to withdraw at late stages of the project and time constraints prevented us from securing an adequate substitute.

All in all, though, the project has emerged substantially as we imagined it: a collection of original essays on the major topics in the philosophy of law written by many of the most interesting and thoughtful researchers working today. The volume not only captures much of the jurisprudential past; it represents the current state of the philosophy of law and points us in several of the directions where it will likely be in the future.

(p. vi) Finally, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge Kenneth Himma's contribution to the success of this project. Ken began as the ‘anonymous’ referee for the project, and soon became Associate Editor. Virtually every submission we received was eventually sent to Ken for review. Ken responded with breathtaking speed and provided the authors with copious and penetrating comments on substance, as well as helpful suggestions on style and presentation. It is a credit to Ken that most every author, including those who were initially piqued by his criticisms, told us that the referee's comments substantially improved their piece. We entirely concur.

Jules L. Coleman

Scott Shapiro

New Haven

New York