Book Review: The Individual, the Community, the State, and Law: The Contemporary Relevance of the Legal Philosophy of Léon Duguit

7 Colum. J. Eur. L. 477 (2001)

reviewed by Martin A. Rogoff. Professor of Law, University of Maine School of Law.

By Léon Duguit. Paris: Ancienne Librarie Thorin et Fils, 1901. 623 pages.

Léon Duguit’s book L’Éat: Le Droit Objectif et la Loi PositiveI appeared exactly 100 years ago. Therein Duguit propounds theories of society and law that are remarkably responsive to debates about law and government which rage today in the United States and in many other countries in the world. Duguit presents views of the role of the state, the function of law and the nature of rights that compel legal and political thinkers to critically reevaluate first principles in the light of social reality, putting aside well-accepted, preconceived ideas, which serve most often as a priori, undemonstrable, polemical premises for preferred political, economic and social outcomes. He writes against the background of a French society and body politic that is torn by division and distrust and advances ideas aimed at reestablishing and reinforcing social cohesion, mutual understanding and cooperation. Duguit’s thought deserves to be better known and appreciated. That is the purpose of this Essay.