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29TH August 2013



When I was at university, a long time ago, there was a compulsory course in Jurisprudence. This covered the theories of law and issues such as why do citizens adopt and submit to legal systems. One idea is that we all accept legal regulation because it makes life in society easier. If there is anarchy and survival of the fittest then while some would win out, the majority would not so in practice we all think that on balance it is better for life in society to be regulated by law and that we should submit to it. However, this assumes that law serves society and keeps pace with and remains relevant to changes in social thinking.

A major issue for society just now is how we are going to deal with the growing elderly population and the increasing sophistication of medicine. In the U.K. we are living longer in general and we can be kept alive, or our deaths prolonged, by our medical system in ways not previously possible. The issue of assisted suicide seems to be mentioned increasingly. A debate seems to be developing around things like the Liverpool Pathway and how we deal with terminal care.

My Jurisprudence course told me that if the law runs ahead of, or fails to keep up with, accepted social norms, then it loses credibility and we don't buy into it. What a challenge things like assisted suicide or "mercy killing" present to the law. Many people have strong feelings either way. Others are still wondering. The debate is not yet fully on. How the law develops in this field is going to be fascinating and of great importance to each of us and to the place of law in our society. How the law develops may affect your willingness to accept the systems we use to make and enforce law. Will everybody, in the fundamental area of life and death buy into consensus? What happens if the law goes too far too fast?

So, wanting to be an informed citizen and to enable me to think about the debate I am taking a book that covers the ground on medical ethics and the dilemmas facing medical practitioners and society. Amazon has a good section but it is important to buy something that is as up to date as possible since things are moving all the time on this one. Medicine, Patients and the Law by Brazier & Cave has much in it that I am not really interested in but also many fascinating and thought provoking chapters. It will keep me going through many showers. This is an area where we should all understand the issues better.

Lighter reading will be the latest of three Lakeland murder mysteries by JJ Salkeld. I am not usually a fan of fiction, far less murder stories but these roll along at a great pace and are unputdownable. I recommend them. The author lives locally so let's support our own!

Of course the sun might shine all the time......

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