Oliver Wendell Holmes
This research paper explores the philosophical thinking of
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (b. 1841, d. 1935), a Justice of the United States Supreme Court between 1902 and 1931, a distinguished jurist and prolific writer and speaker, concerning law and the relationship between law and morality and the way in which Holmes applied these concepts during his long career on the bench. Since his death, Holmes has been perceived in certain quarters by natural law theorists and others as having propagated a legal philosophy which is insufficiently moored in the moral underpinnings of Western and American civilization and as a somewhat unprincipled agnostic who took an unnecessarily harsh view of American society and the role and evolution of the law in mediating its conflicts.