OK-SAFE, Inc. Blog

September 16, 2012

Sir William Blackstone & The Common Law, by Robert D. Stacey, Ph.D.


OK-SAFE, Inc. –  It is good to actually read a book once in a while; Robert Stacey’s overview of Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries is one that can be recommended as a worthwhile read.

Sir William Blackstone

Who was Blackstone? From Britannica, “Blackstone was an 18th century English jurist, whose Commentaries on the Laws of England, 4 vol. (1765–69), is the best-known description of the doctrines of English law. The work became the basis of university legal education in England and North America. He was knighted in 1770.” [Source: Britannica]

For those interested, the entire text of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England can be found on a site call LONANG – short for the Laws Of Nature And Nature’s God.

The Book

Sir William Blackstone & The Common Law – by Robert D. Stacey, Ph.D.

This slim volume provides an overview of Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries, the common law tradition and the principles of natural law.

The book’s chapters include The Lawyer of Cheapside, The English Common Law Tradition, The Legal Theory of Blackstone’s Commentaries, and Blackstone in America.  As far as U.S. law was concerned, “Until the twentieth century, to know the law was to know Blackstone.” (p.53)

Chapter 1’s Introduction includes commentary on the culture war.

Author Stacey writes, “In particular, three tensions – each resistant to easy revolution – are evident in the contemporary culture war.” (P.24-26)

These three tensions are:

  1. Between the individual and the community – where “the interests or desires of the individual are sometimes at odds with those of the community…”  Until recently, this country tipped the scale in favor of the individual, particularly concerning property, while acknowledging “the community’s authority over moral concerns and issues pertaining to the common good.” (p.24)
  2. Between liberty and security“Men are tempted to trade natural rights and liberties in exchange for protection from real or imagined danger.”  Stacey goes on to say, “Preservation and security often mean vesting power and authority in the hands of someone – a strongman, a centralized government, etc. – who can do something about the danger.  The downside is that the specially empowered authority can often become a danger itself.” (p.25). This is where we are with the drones over U.S. soil, clearly an inappropriate use of the military’s war-fighting surveillance technologies.
  3. Between science and religion – Stacey writes, “God created the natural world and established the natural law, both physical and moral, by which it is governed.  For progressives the material world is essentially all there is.” (p.26)

We have seen evidence of all of the above – i.e. the elimination of the rights of the individual in favor of communitarianism, including the taking of personal property; the elimination of personal privacy and liberty, including the freedom to travel about without being poked, prodded, or surveilled, in favor of “security”; the diminution and denial of God, and the destruction of life and family, in favor of science and technology (the rise of the technocrats).

Another way to characterize these tensions?  The battle between good and evil.

This writer is looking forward to the rest of the book.

Sir William Blackstone & The Common Law, by Robert D. Stacey, Ph.D. is available here.

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