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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 Kuhn and Legal Research

A Reflexive Paradigmatic View on Legal Research

Journal Law and Method, January 2013
Keywords legal paradigm, scientific revolution, social theory, reflexivity, responsibility, risk society, cosmopolitanism
Authors Ubaldus de Vries
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article seeks to describe a paradigmatic view on legal research, based on the thought processes underlining Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in particular as how revolutionary change is coming about through a reflexive attitude towards developments that do not fit in the prevailing assumptions in an existing paradigm or research methodology. It allows for a description of ‘normal legal research’ and the assumptions upon which normal legal research is based. It also allows for an explanation as to how these assumptions are no longer exclusively valid but carry with them limitations in the face of structural developments at the level of society. An important feature of the paradigmatic view, then, is that it is able to take issue with these developments by incorporating social theory in our understanding of law.


Ubaldus 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 Hoe moet recht worden onderwezen?

Journal Law and Method, February 2012
Keywords curriculum rechtenstudie, aard van het recht, positief recht, (hulp)wetenschappen
Authors Jaap Hage
AbstractAuthor's information

    The central issue of this paper is to outline a scientifically oriented course in law. Most actual courses focus on positive law, and the main conclusion of this paper is that this is wrong. This conclusion is based on the premise that law is not by definition positive law, but the answer to the question which rules should be enforced by collective means. This premise is argued in the full paper.Positive law is law to the extent that it should be enforced by collective means, and not by definition. Therefore a scientific course in law should pay some attention to positive law, but should not assign it the dominant place in the curriculum which it presently tends to have.To make this abstract idea more concrete, some proposals are made for a law curriculum. The starting point is that the law bachelor should only address positive law where this is necessary for exercises in legal reasoning. Moreover it should address the viable fundamental visions on the nature of law, the main theories about normative reasoning (main currents in ethics), and the facts which are relevant in the light of these normative theories for the question which norms should be enforced by collective means. These facts include both positive law and the results of the different sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, economy, and biology) which are relevant to answer the normative question. Because there are too many scientific results to take in during a bachelor course, the study of the sciences should be replaced by an introduction to scientific method, which allows lawyers to evaluate the outcomes of scientific research. Finally, the bachelor course should also address ‘generic positive law’, the main questions which must be answered by legal systems and the most viable answers to these questions.The master phase of the curriculum should, for those lawyers who want to practice the positive law of a particular jurisdiction, be filled with the detailed study of the relevant positive law.


Jaap Hage
Jaap Hage is hoogleraar Algemene rechtsleer aan Maastricht University.
Artikel

Access_open Exciting Times for Legal Scholarship

Journal Law and Method, February 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, January 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.
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