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    In this article I plead for utilitarianism as guideline for the editor. The article consists mostly of rebuttals of a number of traditional objections against utilitarianism. In particular (but not exclusively) the following objections are discussed:

    1. It is impossible to predict the consequences of legislative measures.

    2. Legislation should be evaluated procedurally (democratically), rather than by a substantive standard.

    3. Utilitarianism allows the sacrifice of the interests or even rights of some on behalf of those of others.

    4. Utilitarianism leads to results that are sometimes strongly counterintuitive.


    A substantial part of the article consists of a discussion of coherentism as method for, amongst others, normative reasoning.


Jaap Hage

    This paper raises two methodological questions from a philosophical perspective: (i) what is involved in a functionalist approach to law and (ii) what should be the focus of such an approach? To answer these questions, I will take two steps with both. To begin with, I argue that Pettit’s view on functionalist approaches may be made relevant for law; functionalist accounts target a virtual mechanism that explains why a system will be resilient under changes in either the system or its environment. Secondly, I make a distinction between two interpretations of his key-concept ‘resilience’, one in mechanical, the other in teleological terms. With regard to the second question I will take two steps as well. I argue why it does not make sense to ascribe wide functions to law, followed by a plea for a limited view on the function of law. This limited view is based on a teleological understanding of the law’s resilience. I argue that these two modes are interrelated in ways that are relevant for the interdisciplinary study of law.


Bert van Roermund

    This article addresses the problem of qualitative interviewing in the field of legal studies, and more precisely the practice of interviewing judges. In the last five years the authors of this article conducted two different research projects which involved interviewing judges as a research method. In this article the authors share their experience and views on the qualitative interviewing method, and provide the reader with an overview of the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ attached to this tool, but also its advantages and disadvantages.


Urszula Jaremba
Urszula Jaremba is an Assistant Professor of EU Law at Erasmus School of Law (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands)

Elaine Dr. Mak
Elaine Mak is Endowed Professor of Empirical Study of Public Law, in particular of Rule-of-Law Institutions, at Erasmus School of Law (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands)
Artikel

Access_open Skeptical Legal Education

How to Develop a Critical Attitude?

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords academic learning, skepticism, Oakeshott, judgment, Critique
Authors Bart van Klink and Bald de Vries
AbstractAuthor's information

    Law teachers at the university want students to develop a critical attitude. But what exactly does it mean to be critical and why is it important to be critical? How can a critical attitude be promoted? In this article we intend to elucidate the role that critical thinking may play in legal education. We will introduce the idea of skeptical legal education, which is to a large extent based on Michael Oakeshott’s understanding of liberal learning but which relativizes its insistence on the non-instrumentality of learning and reinforces its critical potential. Subsequently, the article presents a teaching experiment, where students, based on self-organization, study and discuss basic texts in order to encourage critical thinking.


Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is professor of Legal Methodology at VU University Amsterdam and head of the Department of Legal Theory and Legal History at VU University Amsterdam.

Bald de Vries
Ulbaldus de Vries is lecturer of Legal Theory at the Department of administrative and constitutional law and jurisprudence at the Faculty of law, Utrecht University. He is a founding-member of the Working Group on Reflexive Modernisation and Law.
Artikel

Access_open Empirical Facts: A Rationale for Expanding Lawyers’ Methodological Expertise

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords empirical facts, research methods, legal education, social facts
Authors Terry Hutchinson
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines the importance of the social evidence base in relation to the development of the law. It argues that there is a need for those lawyers who play a part in law reform (legislators and those involved in the law reform process) and for those who play a part in formulating policy-based common law rules (judges and practitioners) to know more about how facts are established in the social sciences. It argues that lawyers need sufficient knowledge and skills in order to be able to critically assess the facts and evidence base when examining new legislation and also when preparing, arguing and determining the outcomes of legal disputes. For this reason the article argues that lawyers need enhanced training in empirical methodologies in order to function effectively in modern legal contexts.


Terry Hutchinson
Terry Hutchinson is Associate Professor, Law School at QUT Faculty of Law.
Artikel

Access_open Alternative Methodologies: Learning Critique as a Skill

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords governmentality, methodology, method, skill
Authors Bal Sokhi-Bulley
AbstractAuthor's information

    How can we teach critical legal education? The article tackles this key question by focusing on the role of methodology in legal education and research. I argue that critical legal education requires marketing methodology as a ‘skill’, thereby freeing it from what students and researchers in Law often view as the negative connotations of ‘theory’. This skill requires exploring ‘alternative methodologies’ – those critical perspectives that depart from legal positivism and which Law traditionally regards as ‘peripheral’. As an example, the article explores the Foucauldian concept of governmentality as a useful methodological tool. The article also discusses the difference between theory, methodology and method, and reviews current academic contributions on law and method(ology). Ultimately, it suggests a need for a ‘revolt of conduct’ in legal education. Perhaps then we might hope for students that are not docile and disengaged (despite being successful lawyers) but, rather, able to nurture an attitude that allows for ‘thinking’ (law) critically.


Bal Sokhi-Bulley
Bal Sokhi-Bulley is Lecturer in Law atQueen’s University in Belfast.
Diversen

Access_open Academic Learning

Asking Questions and Judging Answers

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Authors Lisanne Groen
Author's information

Lisanne Groen
Lisanne Groen is assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam.
Artikel

Access_open ‘I’d like to learn what hegemony means’

Teaching International Law from a Critical Angle

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords Bildung, cultural hegemony, international law, teaching
Authors Christine E.J. Schwöbel-Patel
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution explores the possibility of teaching international law in a critical fashion. I examine whether the training which is taking place at law schools is establishing and sustaining a cultural hegemony (a term borrowed from Antonio Gramsci). I ask whether the current focus on technical practice-oriented teaching is a condition which should be questioned, even disrupted? In my thoughts on reorientations of this culture, a central term is the German word Bildung. Bildung refers to knowledge and education as an end in itself (John Dewey) as well as an organic process (Hegel), and therefore incorporates a wider understanding than the English word ‘education’. In terms of international law, a notion of Bildung allows us to acknowledge the political nature of the discipline; it may even allow us to ‘politicize’ our students.


Christine E.J. Schwöbel-Patel
Christine E.J. Schwöbel-Patel is Lecturer in Law at University of Liverpool.
Artikel

Access_open The Role of Hierarchy, Example, and Language in Learning

A Confrontation between a Liberal and a ‘Critical’ Understanding of Legal Education

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords skeptical legal education, academic learning, Critique, Knowledge, CLS, liberalism, power
Authors Bart van Klink
AbstractAuthor's information

    In The Voice of Liberal Learning, Michael Oakeshott characterizes learning as a strictly non-instrumental activity. In schools and universities, knowledge is acquired for its own sake. Obviously, this liberal understanding of education differs fundamentally from a ‘critical’ notion of education as advocated by Duncan Kennedy and other members of the CLS movement. From a ‘critical’ perspective, Oakeshott’s conception may be seen as yet another attempt – typical for liberalism and conservatism alike – to depoliticize the process of knowledge production and reproduction and to conceal (and thereby to strengthen and legitimize) its effects on the distribution of power, wealth, status and so forth in society. In this paper, the author will confront both views with each other, especially within the context of legal education. The general purpose is to develop a notion of skeptical legal education, which is to a large extent based on Oakeshott’s understanding of liberal learning but which relativizes its insistence on the non-instrumentality of learning and reinforces its critical potential.


Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is professor of Legal Methodology at VU University Amsterdam and head of the Department of Legal Theory and Legal History at VU University Amsterdam.
Artikel

Access_open A Plea for Rigorous Conceptual Analysis as a Central Method in Transnational Law Design

Offer and Acceptance as Juridical Acts in the Draft Common Frame of Reference as a Case in Point

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords DCFR, Conceptual Analysis, Juridical Acts, Transnational Law Design
Authors Rudolf Rijgersberg and Hester van der Kaaij
AbstractAuthor's information

    Although shared legal problems are generally easily identified in transnational law design, it is considerably more difficult to design frameworks that transcend the peculiarities of local law univocally. The following exposition is a plea for giving more prominence to rigorous conceptual analysis in transnational law design in order to disambiguate the terms used in such frameworks. It does this by taking the formation of contracts in the model rules of the Draft Common Frame of Reference (DCFR) as a case in point. A conceptual analysis of the basic legal notion ‘juridical act’ in its model rules for contract law shows that the DCFR allows for two mutually conflicting interpretations of contract formation that are by no means fictional. A rigorous conceptual analysis of basic legal notions in the formative stages of transnational law design would have prevented a conflation of two legal traditions resulting in an ambiguous legal framework. As such it is an indispensable method for achieving a univocal interpretation of the legal end product.


Rudolf Rijgersberg
Rudolf Rijgersberg is assistant professor Methods and Foundations of Law at Maastricht University.

Hester van der Kaaij
Hester van der Kaaij is promovendus PhD candidate in Legal Theory at Maastricht University.

Rob van Gestel
Rob van Gestel is professor of Theory and Methods of Legislation at Tilburg University.
Artikel

Access_open Relational Jurisprudence

Vulnerability between Fact and Value

Journal Law and Method, 2012
Keywords fact/value separation, vulnerability, relational jurisprudence, empirical methodology, normative methodology
Authors Maksymilian Del Mar
AbstractAuthor's information

    Relational jurisprudence is an approach to law that situates it in five relational contexts: (1) relations between individuals; (2) relations between individuals and communities; (3) relations between communities; (4) relations between individuals or communities on the one hand, and institutions on the other; and (5) relations between institutions. Thus, part of what makes relational jurisprudence distinctive is its object: the study of law in the context of certain relations, including investigating what factors affect and influence the quality of those relations. Relational jurisprudence is also distinctive, however, in its method. One of its methodological commitments is to avoid the dichotomy, without losing the benefits of a distinction, between facts and values. In trying to avoid this dichotomy, the approach identifies and uses devices that have both factual and evaluative dimensions, called here ‘factual-evaluative complexes’. These devices are then used to investigate the quality of different relations. One such device is ‘vulnerability’. The argument of this paper is that at least some of law can be profitably understood as managing vulnerability, i.e. recognising some vulnerabilities as worthy of protection and others not, or balancing the protection of different vulnerabilities in different relational contexts. Avoiding the dichotomy while retaining the usefulness of the distinction between facts and values in the above-outlined way means that we ought to employ a mix of empirical and normative methodology in the study of law.


Maksymilian Del Mar
Maksymilian Del Mar is lecturer in Legal and Social Philosophy, Department of Law, Queen Mary University of London.
Artikel

Access_open Grondslagen en methoden van juridisch onderwijs

Journal Law and Method, 2012
Keywords onderwijsmethode, theorieconcepties, Europeanisering, methodologische dilemma’s
Authors René Foqué
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article aims at elucidating some methodological dilemmas which should be taken seriously in legal education. It also aims at articulating the process of how these dilemmas emerged both historically and philosophically. The article starts with the observation that our Western legal systems are rooted in a specific theoretical tradition which can be described as being twofold. In a first already ancient (pre-philosophical) conception, theory finds its nexus both in experience and in narrativity, whereas a more modern conception of theory focuses on logical and conceptual coherence, building a system of professional knowledge. The author argues for a combination of both theoretical conceptions as complementary cornerstones of legal educational programs.The twofold theoretical background of our Western legal tradition can offer us a welcome and fruitful basis for dealing with some important methodological dilemmas: an anascopic (from action to institution) vs a katascopic (from institution to action) approach; deductive vs inductive reasoning; problem-oriented thinking vs systems thinking; case based/case oriented vs doctrinal/conceptual thinking. The author argues for a dialectical complementarity between the respective poles of these dilemmas.Finally, the author argues for introducing – already in an early stage of the program –European Union legal thinking as a challenging laboratory ‘in action’ for searching a reflective equilibrium in dealing with the aforementioned methodological dilemmas.


René Foqué
René Foqué is emeritus hoogleraar in de rechtsfilosofie en rechtstheorie aan de Faculteiten Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven en de Erasmus Universiteit te Rotterdam. Aan het European Inter University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation te Venetië doceert hij philosophy of human rights.
Artikel

Access_open Exciting Times for Legal Scholarship

Journal Law and Method, 2012
Keywords legal methodology, law as an academic discipline, ‘law and …’-movements, legal theory, innovative and multiform legal scholarship
Authors Jan Vranken
AbstractAuthor's information

    Until recently, legal-dogmatic research stood at the undisputed pinnacle of legal scientific research. The last few years saw increasing criticism, both nationally and internationally, levelled at this type of research or at its dominant role. Some see this as a crisis in legal scholarship, but a closer look reveals a great need for facts, common sense, and nuance. Critics usually base their calls for innovation on a one-dimensional and flawed image of legal-dogmatic research. In this article, the author subsequently addresses the various critical opinions themselves and provide an overview of the innovations that are proposed. He concludes that there are a lot of efforts to innovate legal scholarship, and that the field is more multiform than ever, which is a wonderful and unprecedented state of affairs. This multiformity should be cherished and given plenty of room to develop and grow, because most innovative movements are still fledgling and need time, sometimes a lot of time, to increase in quality. It would be a shame to nip them in the bud now, merely because they are still finding their way. In turn, none of these innovative movements have cause to disqualify legal-dogmatic research, as sometimes happens (implicitly), by first creating a straw-man version of the field and then dismissing it as uninteresting or worse. That only polarises the discussion and gains us nothing. Progress can only be achieved through cooperation, with an open mind towards different types of legal research and a willingness to accept a critical approach towards their development. In the end, the only criterion that matters is quality. All types of research are principally subject to the same quality standards. The author provides some clarification regarding these standards as well.


Jan Vranken
Jan Vranken is hoogleraar Methodologie van het privaatrecht aan de Universiteit van Tilburg.
Artikel

Access_open Legal Doctrine As a Non-Normative Discipline

A Refinement of Niiniluoto’s and Aarnio’s Distinction between Norm-Descriptions, Norm-Contentions and Norm-Recommendations

Journal Law and Method, 2012
Keywords legal doctrine as a science, non-normative discipline, norm-descriptions, norm-contentions, norm-recommendations, Aarnio and Niiniluoto
Authors Anne Ruth Mackor
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, the author argues that legal doctrine is not more normative than other scientific disciplines. This argumentation is built on the claim that the distinction between descriptive and normative statements is too simple to analyze the nature of legal doctrine. In the author’s view, a more detailed analysis of legal statements helps to achieve a better and more accurate characterization of legal doctrine as a science. For this purpose, the author builds on the distinction of Aarnio and Niiniluoto between norm-descriptions, norm-contentions and norm-recommendations. She argues that legal doctrine consists mainly of empirical and non-empirical norm-descriptions and that it can therefore be considered as a non-normative discipline.


Anne Ruth Mackor
Anne Ruth Mackor is professor of professional ethics, in particular of legal professions, at the Faculty of Law and Socrates professor of professional ethics at the Faculties of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Groningen.

Carel Smith
Mr. Carel Smith is hoofd Onderzoeksopleidingen bij de Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Universiteit Leiden. Hij is tevens redactielid van Recht en Methode.
Artikel

Access_open What Epistemology Would Serve Criminal Law Best in Finding the Truth about Rape?

Journal Law and Method, 2012
Keywords epistemology (‘scientific’ versus ‘critical’), rape in criminal law, normative classification, empirical evidence
Authors Nicolle Zeegers
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article answers the question of why and in what respects a ‘critical epistemology’, compared to a ‘scientific epistemology’, offers the better alternative for criminal law investigations into rape. By resuming the recent debate concerning the importance of scientific truth in criminal law investigations the author shows that this debate overlooks the cultural values that are necessarily involved in many criminal law cases. Such involvement of cultural values will be illustrated with a historical overview of law cases concerning rape in the context of a heterosexual relationship. Whereas value-free knowledge is the ideal strived for by a ‘scientific epistemology’, the basic idea of a critical epistemology is that knowledge is theory dependent and not free of values. Therefore this epistemology offers the best guarantees for acknowledging the values that are necessarily involved in many criminal law inquiries.


Nicolle Zeegers
Dr. Nicolle Zeegers is universitair docent Politieke Wetenschappen aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
Artikel

Access_open Een discipline in transitie

Rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek na de Commissie Koers

Journal Law and Method, 2011
Keywords rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek, peer review, ranking, methodologie, grand challenges
Authors Carel Stolker
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2010 verscheen het rapport Kwaliteit & diversiteit van de Commissie Koers die het wetenschappelijk onderzoek van negen Nederlandse juridische faculteiten beoordeelde. De conclusie van het rapport is dat het ‘goed’ gaat met het rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek in Nederland, maar tegelijkertijd ziet de Commissie ‘een discipline in transitie’. De Commissie dringt er bij de decanen van de faculteiten op aan om veel meer te gaan samenwerken. Als uitgesproken ‘zwak’ benoemt ze het gegeven dat er binnen de discipline geen algemeen gedeelde opvatting bestaat over de wetenschappelijke kwaliteit op grond waarvan onderzoeksresultaten beoordeeld kunnen worden. In deze bijdrage blikt de auteur aan de hand van de bevindingen van de Commissie Koers terug en trekt hij lijnen naar de toekomst. Volgens hem verdient vooral de externe oriëntatie aandacht: de wetenschappelijke verantwoording (peer review, ranking, impactmeting), de steeds belangrijker wordende maatschappelijke verantwoording, en de thematisering van het juridische onderzoek (de Europese ‘grand challenges’ en de Nederlandse topsectoren).


Carel Stolker
Prof. mr. Carel Stolker was decaan van de Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Universiteit Leiden. Daarvoor was hij vice-decaan voor het onderzoek en directeur van het facultaire E.M. Meijers Instituut. In het academisch jaar 2011-2012 werkt hij aan een boek over rechtenfaculteiten.
Artikel

Access_open Approaching Law through Conflicts

Journal Law and Method, 2011
Keywords Latour, modernity of law, legal procedure, proof, qualification of facts
Authors Niels van Dijk
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article the author presents Latour’s negative analysis of modernity and his positive ethnographical studies of the modes of existence of our modern world. I will discuss the merits and disadvantages of his specific approach on law – an institutional ethnography of the French Conseil d’Etat – within this framework. The analysis will be supplemented with the results of a conflict-based approach to a case study in patent law at a law firm.


Niels van Dijk
Niels van Dijk LL.M. is onderzoeker bij het Center for Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Artikel

Access_open The Theory and Practice of Teaching and Guiding Legal Research Skills

Journal Law and Method, 2011
Keywords legal education, legal research skills, legal research methods, Utrecht School of Law
Authors Ian Curry-Sumner and Marieke van der Schaaf
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of this article is to present a case study of the development process and its underlying theoretical fundaments of a research skills line in the law degree programme. Broader educational purposes of the article are to give managers and lecturers of law schools suggestions for implementing research skills in their curriculum. Accordingly, the article is aimed at stimulating students’ research skills. This article will discuss the background to the decisions that were made in the Utrecht School of Law, then discuss the ultimate end result, namely the implementation of a new research skills line and the publication of a standard research skills instruction. Furthermore, each section will commence with a brief outline of the theoretical framework, followed by an explanation of how this theory has been practically implemented in the Bachelor of Law in Utrecht.


Ian Curry-Sumner
Dr. Ian Curry-Sumner is als senior universitair docent verbonden aan het Molengraaff instituut voor privaatrecht (Universiteit Utrecht). Ook is hij coördinator van het research skills-project in Utrecht. Recentelijk publiceerde hij Research Skills: Instruction for Lawyers samen met F. Kristen, T. van der Linden-Smith en H. Tigchelaar.

Marieke van der Schaaf
Dr. Marieke van der Schaaf is universitair docent aan de Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen van de Universiteit Utrecht.
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