Professor Rodes defines Jurisprudence as "the legal profession's account of what law is about." Since they—lawyers, judges, and legislators doing their work—are all looking at the same phenomenon, writers on Jurisprudence must all draw from the same limited body of material in constructing their theories. In this book, Rodes examines these materials and then classifies the various schools of Jurisprudence according to which of the materials they use and how they use them.
In describing the available materials, Rodes looks first at what he calls the "internal account": legal work considered in itself, the definition and scope of the enterprise. He then takes up the non-legal disciplines that are or have been used in legal decision-making, and the values that are or have been considered suitable for legal implementation.
The rest of the book is devoted to taking up fifteen actual schools of jurisprudence one by one, classifying them in accordance with how each one defines and limits the work of the legal profession, what other disciplines each one uses in describing or applying law, and which values each one seeks to implement through law. The aim is to be exhaustive. All the old familiar schools are included—Analytical Positivism, Natural Law, and the rest. So are more recent arrivals such as Critical Legal Studies, and ideological schools such as Marxism on the one side and Wealth Maximization on the other.
Rodes's presentation is clear and as free from technical language as possible in covering the subject. He is often critical, but he is careful to describe the doctrines of the different schools fairly before criticizing them. Readers, whether or not they agree with the author, will be able to learn from this book. People who wish to choose among the jurisprudential doctrines on the market will find them all displayed here, and people who wish to make up their own jurisprudential doctrine will find here all the material they need for doing so.