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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 ‘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 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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