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The End of Law

How Law’s Claims Relate to Law’s Aims David McIlroy, Barrister and Visiting Professor, CCLS, Queen Mary University of London, UK
The End of Law applies Augustine’s questions to modern legal philosophy as well as offering a critical theory of natural law that draws on Augustine’s ideas. McIlroy argues that such a critical natural law theory is: realistic but not cynical about law’s relationship to justice and to violence, can diagnose ways in which law becomes deformed and pathological, and indicates that law is a necessary but insufficient instrument for the pursuit of justice. Positioning an examination of Augustine’s reflections on law in the context of his broader thought, McIlroy presents an alternative approach to natural law theory, drawing from critical theory, postmodern thought, and political theologies in conversation with Augustine.
Extent: 200 pp
Hardback Price: $110.00 Web: $99.00
Publication Date: 2019
ISBN: 978 1 78811 399 1
Availability: In Stock
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  • Law - Academic
  • Law and Society
  • Legal Philosophy
  • Legal Theory
Augustine posed two questions that go to the heart of the nature of law. Firstly, what is the difference between a kingdom and a band of robbers? Secondly, is an unjust law a law at all? These two questions force us to consider whether law is simply a means of social control, distinguished from a band of robbers only by its size, or whether law is a social institution justified by its orientation towards justice.

The End of Law applies Augustine’s questions to modern legal philosophy as well as offering a critical theory of natural law that draws on Augustine’s ideas. McIlroy argues that such a critical natural law theory is realistic but not cynical about law’s relationship to justice and to violence, can diagnose ways in which law becomes deformed and pathological, and indicates that law is a necessary but insufficient instrument for the pursuit of justice. Positioning an examination of Augustine’s reflections on law in the context of his broader thought, McIlroy presents an alternative approach to natural law theory, drawing from critical theory, postmodern thought, and political theologies in conversation with Augustine.

This insightful book will be fascinating reading for law students and legal philosophers seeking to understand the perspective and commitments of natural law theory and the significance of Augustine. Readers with an interest in interdisciplinary approaches to legal theory will also find this book a stimulating read.
‘The End of Law is a commendably dissenting intervention into the debate about how to shore up the foundations of law at a time of deepening uncertainty about what law is for and whether it is anything more than the outcome of a power contest. It’s thus also a
timely one, at a moment when a legitimate moral pluralism threatens to collapse into a dangerous cultural and political fragmentation that places democracy and the rule of law in serious jeopardy.’
– Jonathan Chaplin, Theos Think Tank

‘For some time, theistic Natural Law Theory has been dominated by the Thomism of the New Classical Natural Lawyers. In this book, David McIlroy develops an Augustinian, which is to say, more critically realist, reinterpretation of that tradition. Wide-ranging, erudite and accessible, this book provides refreshing and provocative new perspectives on the perennial questions of jurisprudence.’
– Julian Rivers, University of Bristol, UK

‘This erudite and elegant volume offers a novel natural law theory of justice, law, and authority that is firmly grounded in the enduring teachings of St. Augustine but deftly engaged with a wide range of contemporary jurists, philosophers, and theologians. This is a book that can be read in an evening or two, but savoured for many years. Highly recommended.’
– John Witte Jr., Emory University, US
Contents: 1. What is the difference between a kingdom and a band of robbers? 2. What on earth are we talking about? 3. An end to war 4. The rule of law and the law of rules 5. The stable door 6. The good ending 7. Critical natural law 8. Justice: the terrible truth? 9. The agony of the law 10. The final judgment