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Books Published by Staff in 2015

Books Published in 2015

Professor Rebecca Probert publishes new edited book 'Marriage Rites and Rights'

Recent years have seen extensive discussion about the continuing retreat from marriage, the increasing demand for the right to marry from previously excluded groups, and the need to protect those who do not wish to marry from being forced to do so. At the same time, weddings are big business, couples are spending more than ever before on getting married, and marriage ceremonies are increasingly elaborate. It is therefore timely to reflect on the rites of marriage, as well as the right to marry (or not to marry), and the relationship between them.

To this end, this new interdisciplinary collection brings together scholars from numerous fields, including law, sociology, anthropology, psychology, demography, theology and art and design. Focusing on England and Wales, it explores in depth the specific issues arising from this jurisdiction’s Anglican heritage, demographic development, current laws and social practices.

Professor Jackie Hodgson publishes new edited book ' Discretionary Criminal Justice in a comparative context'

This volume brings together a broad range of scholars working within a variety of procedural traditions in Europe, North America and China. The first section contains three papers that address the use of discretion during the investigation and prosecution stage of criminal proceedings; the second section deals with negotiated justice and various types of plea agreements in Spain, China and Italy.In the third section, different approaches to the exclusion of evidence are discussed, relating to Switzerland, Germany and a potential EU approach. The fourth section discusses discretion in relation to the death penalty in the US. At the heart of these issues is the problem of reconciling prosecutorial and judicial discretion with the principle of legality. The need to avoid arbitrary decisions is key,but the authors come to differing conclusions as to the impact and value of judicial discretion at different stages of the process and in different jurisdictions.

Andrew Williams, publishes edited collection on 'Europe's Justice Deficit'

The legal and political evolution of the European Union has not, thus far, been accompanied by the articulation of any substantive ideal of justice going beyond the founders' intent or the economic objectives of the market integration project. The absence arguably compromises the foundations of the EU legal and political system. This edited volume brings together contributions addressing both legal and philosophical aspects of justice in the European context.

There have been many accounts of the EU as a story of constitutional evolution and a system of transnational governance, but few pay attention to the implications for justice. The EU has moved beyond its initial emphasis on the establishment of an internal market, yet most legal analyses remain premised on the assumption that EU law still largely serves the purpose of perfecting a system of economic integration. The place to be occupied by the underlying substantive ideal of justice remains significantly underspecified or even vacant, creating a tension between the market-oriented foundation of the Union and the contemporary essence of its constitutional system. The critical assessment provided by this book will help to create a fuller picture of the justice deficit in the EU, and open up an important new avenue of legal research.

New Book: Spinoza, Right and Absolute Freedom (Birkbeck Law Press) by Stephen Connelly

Against jurisprudential reductions of Spinoza’s thinking to a kind of eccentric version of Hobbes, this book argues that Spinoza’s theory of natural right contains an important idea of absolute freedom, which would be inconceivable within Hobbes’ own schema. Spinoza famously thought that the universe and all of the beings and events within it are fully determined by their causes. This has led jurisprudential commentators to believe that Spinoza has no room for natural right – in the sense that whatever happens by definition has a ‘right’ to happen. But, although this book demonstrates how Spinoza constructs a system in which right is understood as the work of machines, by fixing right as determinate and invariable, Stephen Connolly argues that Spinoza is not limiting his theory. The universe as a whole is capable of acting only in determinate ways but, he argues, for Spinoza these exist within a field of infinite possibilities. In an analysis that offers much to ongoing attempts to conceive of justice post-foundationally, the argument of this book is that Spinoza opens up right to a future of determinate interventions –as when an engineer, working with already-existing materials, improves a machine. As such, an idea of freedom emerges in Spinoza: as the artful rearrangement of the given into new possibilities. An exciting and original contribution, this book is an invaluable addition, both to the new wave of interest in Spinoza’s philosophy, and to contemporary legal and political theory.