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The evidence of a new era in Law was the central theme of Dean Pound's lecture in the Phillips Brooks House yesterday afternoon, delivered as part of the general Sunday course in religion.
The change from the former period is taking place largely through an altered conception of the absolute rights of individuals to use their property and liberty exactly as they see fit. In many jurisdictions a man who has a family can no longer mortgage his house, which he has bought with his own money, nor spend his own wages in such away as to leave his wife homeless or destitute. Likewise a man cannot dig a well on his own land so as to drain off another man's well unless there is some sufficient cause for his doing so.
Dean Pound said that there were several other equally definite indications of this growing socialistic tendency in the law.
"Some people may object to the word socialistic," he said, "which perhaps bears a different connotation in their minds, from that which I give it here. But whatever we call it, the idea is that law in this future era will not be concerned with judging man as an isolated individual, but in relation to the society he exist in."
Dean Pound also strongly emphasized the influence of religion on law. Religion, the kind that is much the same thing as ethics or morals, can further the idealistic element in the law. The modern church, though at present it may not have the full influence it should on the Principles and ideals of politics and law, could if it were moved by a deep and sincere religious enthusiasm, have the same effect in the developments of the future, that it had during the Reformation and the Puritanical movement. Dean Pound continued by stating that no absolute unity in Religion was necessary to give it its proper influence in other fields. During the Reformation there was a great diversity of sect, and yet underlying the eddys and side currents was a certain unity in feeling and purpose, which moving in a single direction. It is this same fundamental unity of purpose rather than a superficial unity of creed and form which recording to Dean Pound, we must have to make religion the present force in politics and law that it has been in the past during periods of transition or stress.
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