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Artikel

Access_open Legal Philosophy as an Enrichment of Doctrinal Research Part I: Introducing Three Philosophical Methods

Journal Law and Method, January 2020
Keywords interdisciplinary research, reflective equilibrium, argumentation, philosophical analysis
Authors Sanne Taekema and Wibren van der Burg
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, we discuss a particular form of interdisciplinary legal research. We focus on a discipline that may be fruitfully combined with doctrinal research, namely philosophy. The aim of this article is to give an account of the methods of philosophy that are most relevant and useful for doctrinal legal scholars. Our focus is therefore mostly on legal philosophy and the philosophical subdisciplines closely related to it, such as political philosophy and ethics. We characterize legal philosophy in three complementary ways: as an activity, as insights, and as theories. We then discuss three methods of legal philosophy: argumentation analysis and construction, author analysis and reflective equilibrium. In the practice of research these three methods are usually combined, as we will show with various examples.


Sanne Taekema
Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Wibren van der Burg
Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Redactioneel

Access_open Special Issue on Active Learning and Teaching in Legal Education

Editorial

Journal Law and Method, February 2019
Authors Bart van Klink, Hedwig van Rossum and Bald de Vries
Author's information

Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is Professor of Legal Methodology, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Hedwig van Rossum
Hedwig van Rossum is lecturer-researcher in the Department of Legal Theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Bald de Vries
Bald de Vries is lecturer at the Department of Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law of the Faculty of Law (JCAL), Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Boekbespreking

Access_open Kestemont, Handbook on Legal Methodology. A Review

(Book review of Kestemont, L. (2018). Handbook on Legal Methodology. From Objective to Method. Cambridge: Intersentia, xiii + 97 pp.)

Journal Law and Method, January 2019
Authors Wibren van der Burg
Author's information

Wibren van der Burg
Wibren van der Burg, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University of Rotterdam and School of Law, Queen Mary University of London.

    In legal education, criticism is conceived as an academic activity. As lecturers, we expect from students more than just the expression of their opinion; they have to evaluate and criticize a certain practice, building on a sound argumentation and provide suggestions on how to improve this practice. Criticism not only entails a negative judgment but is also constructive since it aims at changing the current state of affairs that it rejects (for some reason or other). In this article, we want to show how we train critical writing in the legal skills course for first-year law students (Juridische vaardigheden) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. We start with a general characterization of the skill of critical writing on the basis of four questions: 1. Why should we train critical writing? 2. What does criticism mean in a legal context? 3. How to carry out legal criticism? and 4. How to derive recommendations from the criticism raised? Subsequently, we discuss, as an illustration to the last two questions, the Dutch Urgenda case, which gave rise to a lively debate in the Netherlands on the role of the judge. Finally, we show how we have applied our general understanding of critical writing to our legal skills course. We describe the didactic approach followed and our experiences with it.


Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is Professor of Legal Methodology, Department of Legal Theory and History, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Lyana Francot
Lyana Francot is Associate Professor of Legal Theory, Department of Legal Theory and History, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    This article builds upon the work of James Boyd White as well as on Shelley’s ‘A defence of Poetry’ (1840) and reports upon an experiment in which students use poetry as a means to understand philosophical texts. The experiment had a double goal: first, I sought to challenge students in reading a philosophical text differently with an aim to better understand the text. The second goal was to challenge students to think about the text differently, more critically and analyse its relevance for the contemporary world. In the end, using imagination, is the claim, contributes to students finding their own ‘voice’.


Bald de Vries
Dr Bald de Vries is lecturer at the Department of Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law of the Faculty of Law (JCAL), Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands, u.devries@uu.nl.

    This paper starts by reviewing empirical research that threatens law and economics’ initial success. This research has demonstrated that the functioning of the law cannot be well understood based on the assumption of the rational actor and that policies which are based on this assumption are likely to be flawed. Subsequently, three responses to this criticism are discussed. Whereas the first response denounces this criticism by maintaining that the limitations attributed to the rational actor can easily be incorporated in rational choice theory, the second response welcomes the criticism as an opportunity to come up with an integrative theory of law and behavior. The third response also takes the criticism seriously but replaces the aspiration to come up with such an integrative theory by a context-sensitive approach. It will be argued that the first two responses fall short while the third response offers a promising way to go forward.


Peter Mascini
Prof. dr. P. Mascini, Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    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.

    It is often claimed in the media and in political and academic debates that more law nurtures more research, which in turn should generate more information. However, the question researchers are left with is: What does this mean for comparative law and its methods? This paper takes the context of European consumer sales law as an example of the web of rules applicable at both European and national level. In this context, the main idea behind this article is that looking at law and research as data to be built upon and used in further analysis can revolutionise the way in which legal research is understood. This is because current research methods in European consumer sales law fall short of systematically analysing the essential weaknesses of the current regulation system. In this contribution, I argue that the volume of regulation in European consumer law is large enough for it to be considered Big Data and analysed in a way that can harness its potential in this respect. I exemplify this claim with a case-study consisting in the setting up of a Convergence Index that maps the converging effect of harmonizing policies adopted by the European legislator in the field of


Catalina Goanta
Assistant Professor of Private Law, Maastricht Law School, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

    Comparative methodology is an important and a widely used method in the legal literature. This method is important inter alia to search for alternative national rules and acquire a deeper understanding of a country’s law. According to a survey of over 500 Dutch legal scholars, 61 per cent conducts comparative research (in some form). However, the methodological application of comparative research generally leaves much to be desired. This is particularly true when it comes to case selection. This applies in particular to conceptual and dogmatic research questions, possibly also allowing causal explanations for differences between countries. This article suggests that the use of an interdisciplinary research design could be helpful, and Hofstede’s cultural-psychological dimensions can offer a solution to improve the methodology of selection criteria.


Dave van Toor
D.A.G. van Toor, PhD LLM BSc works as a researcher and lecturer in Criminal (Procedural) Law and Criminology at the Universität Bielefeld.

    In the last few decades, we have witnessed the renaissance of Comparative Constitutional law as field of research. Despite such a flourishing, the methodological foundations and the ultimate ratio of Constitutional comparative law are still debated among scholars. This article starts from the definition of comparative constitutional law given by one of the most prominent comparative constitutional law scholars in Italy, prof. Bognetti, who defined comparative constitutional law as the main joining ring between the historical knowledge of the modern law and the history of the humankind in general and of its various civil realizations. Comparative constitutional law is in other words a kind of mirror of the “competing vision of who we are and who we wish to be as a political community” (Hirschl), reflecting the structural tension between universalism and particularism, globalization and tradition.
    The article aims at addressing the main contemporary methodological challenges faced by the studies of the field. The article argues that contemporary comparative constitutional studies should address these challenges integrating the classical “horizontal” comparative method with a vertical one - regarding the international and supranational influences on constitutional settings - and fostering an interdisciplinary approach, taking into account the perspective of the social sciences.


Antonia Baraggia
Emile Noël Fellow, Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice, NYU School of Law and Post-doc Fellow in Constitutional Law, University of Milan. For helpful comments on an earlier draft I am grateful to Luca Pietro Vanoni, Sofia Ranchordas and two anonymous reviewers.

    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

    Quantitative empirical research into legal decisions must be conducted using statistical tools that are appropriate for the data involved. Court decisions are one example of a domain where the data is intrinsically hierarchical (i.e., multilevel), since decisions are made on individual cases by decision-makers in courts located across geographical (or jurisdictional) areas. Past research into court decisions has often either neglected higher level variables or incorrectly used single-level statistical models to analyze multilevel data. The lack of a clear understanding about when and why multilevel statistical models are required may have contributed to this situation. In this paper, we identify the problems of estimating single-level models on hierarchically structured data, and consider the advantages of conducting multilevel analyses under these circumstances. We use the example of criminal sentencing research to illustrate the arguments for the use of multilevel models and against a single-level approach. We also highlight some issues to be addressed in future sentencing studies.


Mandeep Dhami

Ian Keith Belton

    This article examines the main assumptions and theoretical underpinnings of case study method in legal studies. It considers the importance of research design, including the crucial roles of the academic literature review, the research question and the use of rival theories to develop hypotheses and the practice of identifying the observable implications of those hypotheses. It considers the selection of data sources and modes of analysis to allow for valid analytical inferences to be drawn in respect of them. In doing so it considers, in brief, the importance of case study selection and variations such as single or multi case approaches. Finally it provides thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses associated with undertaking socio-legal and comparative legal research via a case study method, addressing frequent stumbling blocks encountered by legal researchers, as well as ways to militate them. It is written with those new to the method in mind.


Lisa Webley
Artikel

Access_open On Experiments in Empirical Legal Research

Journal Law and Method, March 2016
Authors Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos and Mr. Liesbeth Hulst B.Sc., M.Sc.
Abstract

    The current paper presents some observations on experiments in empirical legal research. The paper notes some strengths and weakness of the experimental method. The paper distinguishes between experiments run in controlled laboratory settings and experiments conducted in field settings and notes the different goals the different types of experiments generally have. The paper identifies important stumbling blocks that legal researchers who are new to setting up experiments may face and proposes that focusing the research in a constructive and independent way is important to overcome these problems. The necessity of running multiple studies to overcome other problems are discussed as well. When conducted in this way, experiments may serve an important role in the field of empirical legal studies and may help to further explore the exciting issues of law, society, and human behavior.


Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos

Mr. Liesbeth Hulst B.Sc., M.Sc.

    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.

    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
Artikel

Access_open Skeptical Legal Education

How to Develop a Critical Attitude?

Journal Law and Method, February 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, February 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, February 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.
Artikel

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

Teaching International Law from a Critical Angle

Journal Law and Method, February 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.
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