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Artikel

Access_open Time and Law in the Post-COVID-19 Era: The Usefulness of Experimental Law

Special Issue Experimental Legislation in Times of Crisis, Sofia Ranchordas & Bart van Klink (eds.)

Journal Law and Method, September 2021
Keywords COVID-19, time and law, law-making, parliament, government, legal certainty
Authors Erik Longo
AbstractAuthor's information

    The COVID-19 pandemic swept the world in 2020 impelling us to reconsider the basic principles of constitutional law like the separation of power, the rule of law, human rights protection, etc. The two most pressing legal issues that have attracted the attention of legal scholars so far are, on the one hand, the different regulatory policies implemented by governments and, on the other, the balance among the branches of government in deciding matters of the emergency. The pandemic has determined a further and violent acceleration of the legislature’s temporal dimension and the acknowledgement that, to make legislation quicker, parliament must permanently displace its legislative power in favour of government. Measures adopted to tackle the outbreak and recover from the interruption of economic and industrial businesses powerfully confirm that today our societies are more dependent on the executives than on parliaments and, from a temporal perspective, that the language of the law is substantially the present instead of the future. Against this background, this article discusses how the prevalence of governments’ legislative power leads to the use of temporary and experimental legislation in a time, like the pandemic, when the issue of ‘surviving’ becomes dominant.


Erik Longo
Prof. Dr. Erik Longo is associate professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Florence.
Artikel

Access_open Law Schools and Ethics of Democracy

Special Issue on Pragmatism and Legal Education Sanne Taekema & Thomas Riesthuis (eds.)

Journal Law and Method, August 2021
Keywords legal education, democracy, pragmatism
Authors Michal Stambulski
AbstractAuthor's information

    Contemporary critical analyses of legal education indicate that legal education is undemocratic as it is based on a discipline that produces subjects who obey hierarchies, are free from the habit of criticism and are ready to self-sacrifice for promotion in the social hierarchy. At the same time, critical analyses offer the very passive vision of the law student as merely ‘being processed’ through the educational grinder. Paradoxically, in doing so they confirm the vision they criticize. This article argues that, by adopting a pragmatic philosophical perspective, it is possible to go beyond this one-sided picture. Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in ‘practical’ attitudes in legal education. Socrates’ model of didactics, clinical education and moot courts are giving rise to institutionalized ideas as structural elements of legal education, owing to which a purely disciplinary pedagogy may be superseded. All these practices allow students to accept and confront the viewpoints of others. Education completed in harmony with these ideas promotes an active, critical member of community, who is ready to advance justified moral judgements, and as such is compliant with pragmatic ethics of democracy.


Michal Stambulski
Dr. Michal Stambulski is postdoctoral researcher at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and assistant professor at the University of Zielona Gora.
Artikel

Access_open Space and Socialization in Legal Education: A Symbolic Interactionism Approach

Special Issue on Pragmatism and Legal Education, Sanne ­Taekema & Thomas Riesthuis (eds.)

Journal Law and Method, April 2021
Keywords legal education, pragmatism, symbolic interactionism, sociology of space
Authors Karolina Kocemba
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article deals with the possibility of socializing law students through space. It first indicates which features of space affect the possibility of influencing interactions and identity. It then discusses how we can use symbolic interactionism to study interactions and socialization in spaces of law faculties. Then, on the basis of the interviews conducted with law faculty students about their space perception, it shows how to research student socialization through space and how far-reaching its effects can be.


Karolina Kocemba
Karolina Kocemba, MA, is PhD student at the University of Wroclaw; Uniwersytet Wroclawski, Wroclaw, Poland.
Artikel

Access_open Art, Science and the Poetry of Justice – ­Pragmatist Aesthetics and Its Importance for Law and Legal Education

Special Issue on Pragmatism and Legal Education ­Sanne Taekema & Thomas Riesthuis (eds.)

Journal Law and Method, March 2021
Keywords legal research, legal education, epistemology, law, science and art
Authors Wouter de Been
AbstractAuthor's information

    Classic pragmatists like John Dewey entertained an encompassing notion of science. This pragmatic belief in the continuities between a scientific, ethical and cultural understanding of the world went into decline in the middle of the 20th century. To many mid-century American and English philosophers it suggested a simplistic faith that philosophy and science could address substantive questions about values, ethics and aesthetics in a rigorous way. This critique of classic pragmatism has lost some of its force in the last few decades with the rise of neo-pragmatism, but it still has a hold over disciplines like economics and law. In this article I argue that this criticism of pragmatism is rooted in a narrow conception of what science entails and what philosophy should encompass. I primarily focus on one facet: John Dewey’s work on art and aesthetics. I explain why grappling with the world aesthetically, according to Dewey, is closely related to dealing with it scientifically, for instance, through the poetic and aesthetic development of metaphors and concepts to come to terms with reality. This makes his theory of art relevant, I argue, not only to studying and understanding law, but also to teaching law.


Wouter de Been
Wouter de Been is a legal theorist who has written widely on pragmatism and legal realism. I would like to thank the reviewers for their comments. Their critical commentary made this a much better article. Any remaining shortcomings are of course my own. I dedicate this article to the memory of Willem Witteveen, who always saw the art in law.
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.
Artikel

Access_open Teaching Socio-Legal Research Methodology: Participant Observation. Special Issue on Active Learning and Teaching in Legal Education

Journal Law and Method, January 2019
Keywords Participant observation, sociolegal research, methodology, teaching
Authors Marc A. Simon Thomas
AbstractAuthor's information

    The basics of how to conduct participant observation are not taught in law schools. This is striking because this methodology has become a common feature of qualitative research and could be very useful in sociolegal research. For those interested in studying ‘law in practice’ instead of ‘law in the books’, qualitative research methods like participant observation are inevitable. However, participant observation is, at best, secondary in the literature on qualitative research in the sociolegal discipline, while there is no guidance on how to conduct this technique whatsoever.Therefore, this article is written with two audiences in mind: It should serve as a useful reference and guide for those who teach qualitative research methods in legal education and who are looking to enhance their knowledge and skills concerning participant observation; it is also meant to serve as a basic primer for the beginning sociolegal researcher who is about to become a participating observer for the first time.


Marc A. Simon Thomas
Utrecht University, School of Law, Institute of Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law, Legal Theory; m.a.simonthomas@uu.nl.

    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.

    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

    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

    Sensitive interviews involve emotionally difficult topics which require participants to face issues that are deeply personal and possibly distressing. This paper draws together reflections concerning how researchers manage the challenges of conducting sensitive interviews, including the author’s own reflections concerning interviewing clinical negligence claimants. First, it examines the ethical guidelines that regulate sensitive research, and the challenges of obtaining informed consent and maintaining confidentiality. Ethical guidelines, however, provide limited assistance for ensuring the emotional care of research participants, and we also consider challenges that are not usually formally regulated. These include preparing for the interview, and then ensuring the emotional care of participants both during and after the interview itself. Sensitive research also raises deeper ethical issues concerning the negotiation of relations between researcher and participant, especially when this relationship is unequal. Finally, while previous research has generally focused on the need to take emotional care of research participants, less attention has been given to the emotional needs of researchers. It is argued that support systems for researchers are too often ad hoc, and that providing support is often not a priority of granting bodies, grant holders or supervisors, and that formal systems need to be put in place.


Angela Melville
Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. Email: angela.melville@flinders.edu.au.

Darren Hincks
Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

    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 ‘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 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 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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