Introduction to the Index


The gentle art of letter writing is slowly passing from this world. In its place, where once we all wrote to friends and family, today we throw gasps and abbreviations into the ether. Instead of forming words with ink and pen, we tap stuff fast and then press 'Send.'

Today, I feel unbalanced. To regain some order, Septicius, I am determined to sit and learn the old art afresh. To hand, I have a collection of my letters, speeches and lessons, and propose to publish them in some coherent order. 

Some may disbelieve that I write letters as mere correspondence. They search for a deeper reason: surely these were intended as educative or a reflection on our troubled time. But then, maybe any well-written letter serves each of those purposes?

I agree with the ancients that a letter-writer should always write with care and decorum (except to you, Septicius). And so, to honor subject and correspondent, should I organize these by subject or by date? But then again they could never constitute a history: these letters touch on all manner of trivia. Some, dealing with issues in contemporary civil law, have been edited for the general reader - you do not need to be a legal theorist. Many of the letters, one way or the other, concern arguments about certainty/risk and legal realism.

I will not try to write of taste, diction, politics or history. But prepared to be offended. I have no truck with the well meaning corrupt or those who consider law a modern invention of their own making. The threads that run through our law are ancient and are not to be trifled with.




Examines the Salem Witch Trials and explores the question 'how can society protect itself from collective hysteria'?  A statute book founded on basic principles of human rights is the last best defense against social collapse.

Legal Realism

Examines the relationship between legal and behavioral change. Explores and contrasts changes made in two areas of the law: the law of time and the law of defamation.  


Examines how legal policy ideas can spread.  Examines changes to same-sex marriage and relationship law.

Legal Theory and Technique

At the heart of any systematized body of rules lies the principle of coherence. Examines how legal or economic theories can be useful in attempting to explain or justify events. While legal theories can illuminate events, they are not reliably used for predictive purposes. Derives and contrasts basic legislative techniques from principles of deontic logic. Applies these to regulatory reform issues.


Examines different types of risk. Explores basic concepts in risk policy. Argues that traditional legal techniques for transferring risk in supply chains are ineffective and make situations worse. 


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Author: Peter Quinton

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