Ross, Alf. On Law and Justice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959. xi, 383 pp. Reprint available December 2004 by the Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN 1-58477-488-6. Cloth. $90. * In this influential and oft-cited study Ross discounted the theories of natural law, positivism and legal realism. In their stead, he proposed the abandonment of "ought-propositions" for the "is-propositions" employed by other empirical sciences, thereby envisioning lawyers that serve merely as "rational technologists." Less bound by tradition, and traditional notions of justice, jurisprudence then becomes "not only a beautiful mental activity per se, but also an instrument which may benefit any lawyer who wants to understand what he is doing and why" (Preface).
Selected essays originally published as a book in Danish in 1970. Three had been published before then in English, but the others are new. All deal with concepts common to law and morality. "They function in the same way in legal and moral discourse: guilt determines responsibility, and responsibility punishment. But the conditions under which a person incurs guilt differ according to whether the guilt is legal or moral, as do also the manner in which the responsibility takes effect and the penal reaction itself." Cf. Preface, page v.
Alf Ross (1899-1979) was a well-known Danish legal and moral philosopher, a scholar of international law, and one of the founding fathers of the so-called Scandinavian legal realism. On the surface, the life of Alf Ross might have been considered a fairy tale. Ross had to go through hardship, both in relation to love and work, before he became an internationally known and recognized philosopher and legal scholar. But, the story of Alf Ross is not a fairy tale. It is the story of a man's struggle to greatness and the consequences of such a struggle in his relationship with other people, including his spouse. This book presents the personal and professional life story of Alf Ross.
Ross, Alf Loar, Brian, Editor.Directives and Norms. New York: Humanities Press, . ix, 188 pp. Reprint available April 2009 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN-13: 978-1-58477-961-2. ISBN-10: 1-58477-961-6. Cloth with dust jacket. $65.00 * Reprint of the first American edition. One of the most interesting jurists of the post-World War II era, Ross [1899-1979] was a legal and moral philosopher, scholar of international law and the leading representative of Scandinavian Legal Realism. This book and On Law and Justice (1958) are his principal works. In Directives and Norms Ross asks whether imperatives (or, to use his term, 'directives') are subject to logic in the same way as indicatives. He shows the difference between indicative and directive discourse and explains the concepts 'directive' and 'norm' as they function in the social sciences, especially in the study of law. A contemporary essay in the Modern Law Review (32:544), though critical of this work, was still impressed by its "clear and convincing account" of these processes.