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The Architecture of Law
Rebuilding Law in the Classical Tradition
560 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268103347 | February 2023
Hardcover | 9780268103330 | May 2018
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268103361 | May 2018
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268103354 | May 2018
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This book argues that classical natural law jurisprudence provides a superior answer to the questions “What is law?” and “How should law be made?” rather than those provided by legal positivism and “new” natural law theories.
What is law? How should law be made? Using St. Thomas Aquinas’s analogy of God as an architect, Brian McCall argues that classical natural law jurisprudence provides an answer to these questions far superior to those provided by legal positivism or the “new” natural law theories. The Architecture of Law explores the metaphor of law as an architectural building project, with eternal law as the foundation, natural law as the frame, divine law as the guidance provided by the architect, and human law as the provider of the defining details and ornamentation. Classical jurisprudence is presented as a synthesis of the work of the greatest minds of antiquity and the medieval period, including Cicero, Aristotle, Gratian, Augustine, and Aquinas; the significant texts of each receive detailed exposition in these pages. Along with McCall’s development of the architectural image, he raises a question that becomes a running theme throughout the book: To what extent does one need to know God to accept and understand natural law jurisprudence, given its foundational premise that all authority comes from God? The separation of the study of law from knowledge of theology and morality, McCall argues, only results in the impoverishment of our understanding of law. He concludes that they must be reunited in order for jurisprudence to flourish. This book will appeal to academics, students in law, philosophy, and theology, and to all those interested in legal or political philosophy.
Brian McCall holds the Orpha and Maurice Merrill Chair in Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
“The book is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is truly a tour de force that articulates and defends the classical understanding of natural law against detractors (and reformers) of both yesteryear and today. With this book, Brian McCall has established himself as, arguably, the leading natural law luminary in American legal academia.” —Ronald J. Colombo, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
“The Architecture of Law makes a masterful contribution to constructive jurisprudence in the best tradition of the ongoing encounter between reason and Christian faith. Erudite yet unpretentious, insightful yet careful, McCall’s account of human lawmaking starts at the beginning, where one should indeed start, and then gradually shows the reader exactly why law is correctly defined, pace most modern accounts, as a ‘dialectic among reason, command, and custom.’ This book offers a challenging, fascinating, but consistent journey for the reader. It is an outstanding piece of work.” —Patrick McKinley Brennan, Villanova University
"Drawing on the best resources of Roman law, classical canon law, Catholic theology, perennial philosophy, and positivist, historicist, and natural law jurisprudence, Brian McCall constructs a dynamic account of law that refuses to leave anything important out. Erudite yet unpretentious, this book is the modern jurisprudential equivalent of the greatest medieval cathedrals. Offering shelter to all, it appeals to our capacity to construct law that is worthy of our better angels, while never mistaking men-as-they-happen-to-be for angels." —Patrick Brennan, John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies, Villanova University
“While committed opponents of traditional natural law nay not be convinced, McCall’s presentation is nonetheless extremely lucid, clear and thought-provoking for those who have become uncomfortable with the supposedly self-evident principles of modern jurisprudence—principles which deny any real connection between law and morality and nature.” —Catholic Herald
“[The Architecture of Law] is worth reading. Those not immersed in the classical tradition will benefit from this introduction to some of its lesser-known themes. . . . Those who know the tradition well will find in McCall’s expression of it fresh and challenging glosses and close attention to its most vexing questions.” —Law and Liberty
“Professor McCall issues a clarion call to return to classical sources, most notable Thomas Aquinas, in order to evaluate and appreciate the essential role of natural law within the whole structure of the law.” —Ecclesiastical Law Journal
“. . . a bold, thoughtful, and cogent defense of classical natural law theory and its relevance for the contemporary theory and practice of law. This book deserves wide attention from legal scholars as well as theologians and historians of law.” —Journal of Law and Religion