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    Legal doctrinal scholarship engages with the problems of legal practice: it systematizes, comments on, evaluates and debates what goes on in law. These activities do not occur in a vacuum: they are embedded in scholarly traditions and theories. This paper discusses the role of the theoretical frameworks used in legal research and has two related aims. First, it aims to provide some practical conceptualizations and guidelines regarding theoretical and normative frameworks that are useful to understand and conduct legal research. Second, it aims to investigate the relationships between different kinds of normative frameworks and their relationship to empirical work. In the second part, an argument is made for a pragmatist understanding of the interplay between normative theorizing and empirical study. How do these work together in judgments about the state of the law?


Sanne Taekema
Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam; taekema@law.eur.nl.

    This paper discusses three approaches that can be helpful in the area of comparative rights jurisprudence, oriented in reference to three different kinds of studies that are possible in that area. To a large extent the methods for a comparative legal research depend on the research question and the goal of the researcher. First, a comparative law study may focus on the sociocultural context that led to the elaboration of differences or similarities in the protection of rights. Second, a comparative law approach can be a normative enterprise. It can focus on engaging in a philosophical analysis enlightened by the differences or similarities in the regulation of rights, in order to propose concrete solutions for the regulation of a right. Third, a comparative law approach can combine both elements of the two previously mentioned approaches. The paper discusses the challenges that the researcher faces in her attempt to use these methodologies and how these challenges can be overcome. The law as a normative discipline has its own constraints of justifiability. If what motivates a comparative law study is the search for principles of justice the researcher needs to persuade that her methodological approach serves her aim.


Ioanna Tourkochoriti
School of Law, NUI Galway, Ireland.

    The nexus between religion and law is an important subject of comparative law. This paper, however, finds that the majority of comparative theorists rely on the immanent frame; that legal legitimacy can and should be separated from any objective truth or moral norm. But the fact of the matter is many constitutional systems were founded based on a complicated mixture between the transcendent and immanent frame. Whereas in the immanent frame, human actions are considered self-constituting, in the transcendent frame, human actions were judged in light of their correspondence to higher, divine laws and purposes.
    This article argues that it is not sufficient for comparative theorists to offer a perspective from the immanent frame. Comparative theorists in law and religion should understand at least basic religious doctrines and know how to systematize those doctrines. In other words, comparative theorist of law and religion should work within the transcendent frame. By using a transcendent frame, comparative theorists will be able to excavate the underlying structure of religion, and so they will understand better how theological ideas influence law. Furthermore, this paper will also present a thought experiment in applying the transcendent frame in comparative constitutional studies.


Stefanus Hendrianto
Stefanus Hendrianto is a scholar at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry. In recent years, he has been a visiting professor at Santa Clara University School of Law (2013-2015) and a guest scholar at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame (2015-2016). He holds a Ph.D. degree from the School of Law, University of Washington, Seattle and LLM degree from Utrecht University, Netherlands, in addition to his LLB degree from Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.

    Both H.L.A. Hart and John Searle repeatedly refer to games in their work on the concept of law and the construction of social reality respectively. We can argue that this is not a coincidence, Hart’s analysis of law as a system of primary and secondary rules bears close resemblances to Searle’s analysis of social reality as a system of regulative and constitutive rules and the comparison to games leads to interesting insights about the ontology of law and legal epistemology. The present article explores both the institutional theory of law that can be devised on the basis of the work of Hart and Searle, the method of analytical philosophy they employ and the particular consequences that can be deduced for legal research from the resulting legal theory.


Arie-Jan Kwak
Dr. A.J. Kwak, Faculty of Law, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

    The article discusses the contribution of comparative law to the study of federalism and decentralisation. In doing so, it stresses the relevance of the notion of federalising process, as elaborated by Carl J. Friedrich.


Giacomo Delledonne
Postdoctoral fellow in Constitutional Law, Scuola superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. Email: giacomo. delledonne@gmail.com. Huge thanks go to Sofia Ranchordás and Irene Broekhuijse. I would also like to thank Paolo Carrozza, Paolo Addis, Ilaria Rivera and the anonymous reviewers for their precious suggestions and comments.

    By conducting methodological assessments, legal researchers decide which lines of inquiry are worth pursuing. Two aspects of such assessments are highlighted in this article. The first aspect is to construct promising lines of inquiry. The second aspect is to clarify provisionally the potential of various promising lines of inquiry. Clarifying and calibrating such potential through discourse with fellow researchers are essential. Increased awareness of how legal researchers decide which lines of inquiry are worth pursuing is vital to contemporary discourse about legal methodology.


Synne Sæther Mæhle
Associate professor, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway

    Central to this contribution is the question whether Dworkin’s theory of constructive interpretation as a method of applying law for the judge, can be used as a method of legal-dogmatic research. Constructive interpretation is a method of legal interpretation that aims to find a normative unity in the diversity of rules that characterize a legal system. In order to find an answer to this question, the key elements of Dworkin’s theory are explained and applied to the author’s PhD research. Methodological difficulties that could give rise to problems when applying Dworkin’s theory, are investigated. In the end, the author concludes that since the judge and the scholar use quite the same methods when interpreting law, the principles of constructivism should fit legal research well, even though some aspects of Dworkin’s theory are difficult to operationalize in practice. As a leading notion however, constructivism constitutes a workable method of legal research.


Francisca Christina Wilhelmina de Graaf LL.M
Fanny de Graaf is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, VU University.

mr.dr. Maria Geertruida IJzermans

    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.
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