Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



J.L. Austin thought that philosophers have much to learn from lawyers and the law. No doubt philosophers and lawyers have a lot to learn from each other wherever their interests intersect. But until now philosophical analysis has done more to elucidate important legal concepts and distinctions than viceversa. P.S. Atiyah's Promises, Morals, and Law may redress this imbalance. In this book, one of today's most accomplished students of the common law examines the nature of promises and the grounds of their binding force. Written in Atiyah's characteristically vigorous and lucid style, the book is a philosophical treatise, but one that benefits from the author's ability to draw on his vast knowledge of English contract law. His use of legal examples is nontechnical and judicious, and presents no difficulty to the nonlawyer. On the contrary, it serves to illuminate and illustrate the author's drift.


Law | Law and Philosophy


Promises, Morals, and Law by P.S. Atiyah, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981, pp. 218, $29.95.