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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

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Goode on Commercial Law

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Sir Matthew Hale, 1609-1676: Law, Religion and Natural Philosophy

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ISBN13: 9780521534468
ISBN: 0521534461
Published: January 2004
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback (Hardback in 1995)
Price: £28.99

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Sir Matthew Hale (1609-76) was the greatest common lawyer of his age, and the most universally admired. Although he held office under Oliver Cromwell, this barely affected his standing in Restoration times. A study of Hale's life and thought necessarily illuminates the central role of the common law in Stuart politics.

This book explains Hale's political ideas, and his subtle understanding of the peculiar character of an 'unwritten' law. It also covers his extensive writings on scientific and religious questions, writings which document a shift from puritan to liberal Protestantism.

His acute but equivocal response to the science of Descartes and Boyle reveals a fascinating interplay between his 'latitudinarianism' and the new natural philosophy. The result is a unique case study, and a comprehensive portrait of a seventeenth-century mind.

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Legal History, Biography
Introduction: a summary life
Part I. Law
1. Coke: the appeal to reason
2. Selden: the appeal to contract
3. The rights of the Crown
4. Interregnum
5. Protectorate
6. Restoration: 'the nature of laws'
7. Restoration: constitutional theory
8. Restoration: legal practice
Part II. Religion
9. Hales's 'puritanism'
10. Hale's 'latitudinarianism'
11. Hale and religious dissent
Part III. Natural Philosophy
12. Natural motions
13. The Torricellian experiment
14. The soul