Against an ever-expanding and diversifying `rights talk', this book re-opens the question of obligation from not only legal but also ethical, sociological and political perspectives.
Its premise is that obligation has a primacy ahead of rights, because rights attach to practices and modes of being that are already saturated with obligations.
Obligations thus lie at the core not just of law but of community.
Yet the distinctive meanings, range and situations of obligation have tended to remain under-theorised in legal scholarship.
In response, this book examines the sense in which we are multiply `bound beings', to law and legal institutions, as much as we are to place, community, memory and the various social institutions that give shape to collective life.
Sharing this set of concerns, each of the international group of scholars contributing to this volume traces the specificity of the binding force of obligations, their techniques and modes of expression, as well as their centrally important role in giving form to lawful relations.
Together they provide an innovative and challenging contribution to legal scholarship: one that will also be of relevance to those working in politics, philosophy and social theory.