chapter  4
16 Pages

On Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., The Common Law

ByTim Griffin

The Common Law is Oliver Wendell Holmes' most sustained jurisprudential work. This chapter begins with a brief account of Holmes' life and the influences that played a role in shaping his thought. It discusses the larger concerns of The Common Law as well as certain of the significant particulars of his presentation that bear on it. The chapter considers the relevance of Holmes' position for contemporary legal theory. Although The Common Law is difficult, students of law and jurisprudence will doubtless find their effort in working through it highly rewarding. Many of Holmes' remarks in The Common Law seem to suggest that he is on a crusade to rid the law of philosophy. There is a clear relationship between this position and his rejection of the idea that the common law could be organized by means of philosophical principles or theories. Holmes' commitment to pragmatism and evolutionary theory inform both the polemical and positive contents of The Common Law.