What is a family? What makes someone a parent? What rights should children have? Family Law: A Very Short Introduction gives the reader an insight not only into what the law is, but why it is the way it is. It examines how laws have had to respond to social changes in family life, from rapidly rising divorce rates to surrogate mothers, and gives insight into family courts which are required to deal with the chaos of family life and often struggle to keepup-to-date with the social and scientific changes which affect it. It also looks to the future: what will families look like in the years ahead? What new dilemmas will the courts face?ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
We are used to thinking that most people have the capacity to make their own decisions; that they should be free to decide how to live their lives; and that it is a good thing to be self-sufficient. However, in an examination of the legal position of vulnerable adults, understood as those who have capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 but are deemed impaired through vulnerability in their exercise of decision making powers, Jonathan Herring challenges that
assumption. Drawing on feminist and disability perspectives he argues that we are all in fact, 'vulnerable' and we need to replace the competent, able-bodied, independent person as the norm which the law is based on and instead fashion which recognises our interdependence and mutuality.
At the heart of the law is a distinction between those who have capacity and those who do not. Those who have capacity are given the full rights of the law; they are entitled to enter contracts, dispose of their property, are able to marry. Those who are deemed to lack capacity are unable to make these decisions. Their decisions are made on their behalf based on an assessment of what is in their best interests. This approach is underpinned by the principle of autonomy, and is problematic for
those who are deemed 'vulnerable'. The Court of Protection and the Court of Appeal have developed a jurisdiction to deal with cases involving vulnerable adults which has been used in a wide range of cases from those involving people with early stage dementia to cases of forced marriage. This
development of law has proved controversial and the courts have struggled to draw its limits and explain the justification for it.
Jonathan Herring welcomes the courts willingness to protect vulnerable adults through the inherent jurisdiction, but argues that we need to go much further. It is not just particular groups such as 'the elderly' or 'the disabled' who are vulnerable, but rather vulnerability is part of the human condition. This means that caring relationships are of central significance to our society and should be at the heart of the legal system.
This book will challenge the orthodox view that children cannot have the same rights as adults because they are particularly vulnerable. It will argue that we should treat adults and children in the same way as the child liberationists claim. However, the basis of that claim is not that children are more competent than we traditionally given them credit for, but rather that adults are far less competent than we give them credit for.
It is commonly assumed that children are more vulnerable. That is why we need to have a special legal regime for children. Children cannot have all the same rights as adults and need especial protect from harms. While in the 1970s "child liberationists" mounted a sustained challenge to this image, arguing that childhood was a form of slavery and that the assumption that children lacked capacity was unsustainable. This movement has significantly fallen out of favour, particularly given increasing awareness of child abuse and the multiple ways that children can be harmed at the hands of adults.
This book will explore the concept of vulnerability, the way it used to undermine the interests of children and our assumptions that adults are not vulnerable in the same way that children are. It will argue that a law based around mutual vulnerability can provide an approach which avoids the need to distinguish adults and children.
This book explores the importance of autonomy in family law. It argues that traditional understandings of autonomy are inappropriate in the family law context and instead recommends the use of relational autonomy. The book starts by explaining how autonomy has historically been understood, before exploring the problems with its use in family law. It then sets out the model of relational autonomy which, it will be argued, is more appropriate in this context. Finally, some examples of practical application are presented. The issues raised and theoretical discussion is relevant to any jurisdiction.
This book is an examination of how the law understands human identity and the whole notion of `human being'. On these two notions the law, usually unconsciously, builds the superstructure of `human rights'. It explores how the law understands the concept of a human being, and hence a person who is entitled to human rights. This involves a discussion of the legal treatment of those of so-called "marginal personhood" (e.g. high functioning non-human animals; humans of limited intellectual capacity, and fetuses). It also considers how we understand our identity as people, and hence how we fall into different legal categories: such as gender, religion and so on.The law makes a number of huge assumptions about some fundamental issues of human identity and authenticity - for instance that we can talk meaningfully about the entity that we call `our self'. Until now it has rarely, if ever, identified those assumptions, let alone interrogated them. This failure has led to the law being philosophically dubious and sometimes demonstrably unfit for purpose. Its failure is increasingly hard to cover up. What should happen legally, for instance, when a disease such as dementia eliminates or radically transforms all the characteristics that most people regard as foundational to the `self'? This book seeks to plug these gaps in the literature.
This book is an assault on the notion that it is empirically accurate and legally and philosophically satisfactory to see humans as atomistic entities. It contends that our welfare is inextricably entangled with that of others, and accordingly law and ethics, in determining our best interests, should recognise the central importance of relationality, the performance of obligations, and (even apparently injurious) altruism.
The idea of the Good Life - of what constitutes human thriving, is, implicitly, the foundation and justification of the law. The law exists to hold societies together; to hold in tension the rights of individuals as against individuals, the rights of individuals as against various types of non-humans such as corporations (and vice versa), and the rights of individuals individuals as against the state (and vice versa). In democratic states, laws inhibit some freedoms in the name of greater, or more desirable freedoms. The only justification for law is surely that it tends to promote human thriving.
But what is the Good Life? What does it mean to live a thriving life? There has been no want of discussion, at least since the great Athenians. But surprisingly, since human thriving is its sole raison d'etre, the law has been slow to contribute to the conversation.
This book aims to start and facilitate this conversation.
It aims to:
-make lawyers ask: `What is the law for?', and conclude that it is to maximise human thriving
-make lawyers ask: `But what does human thriving mean?'
-make judges and advocates ask: `How can a judgment about the best interests of a patient be satisfactory unless its basis is made clear?
This book examines the relationship between law and scientific advancement, with a particular focus on the theory of evolution and medical innovation. Historically, the law has struggled to keep pace with modern medical advances. The authors demonstrate that the laws that govern human behaviour must evolve in response to such advances. This book describes how evolution shapes us humans and allows us to understand processes from ageing to decision making, and examines recent medical developments related to reproduction, neurosciences, sexuality, illness, bodily autonomy, and death, while considering the ethical, philosophical and legal implications of those developments.
This book examines the controversial and repercussive contention that an objective of the law should be to promote personal morality - to make people ethically better. It surveys a number of domains, including criminal law, tort law, contract law, family law, and medical law (particularly the realm of moral enhancement technologies) asking for each: (a) Does the existing law seek to promote personal morality? (b) If so, what is the account of morality promoted, and what is the substantive content? (c) Does it work? and (d) Is this a legitimate objective?