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http://ssrn.com/abstract=2167498
 
 

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The Methodology of Legal Philosophy


Alex Langlinais


University of Chicago

Brian Leiter


University of Chicago

September 6, 2013

H. Cappelen, T. Gendler, & J. Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology, Forthcoming
U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 407

Abstract:     
This is the revised and penultimate version of this paper. The essay surveys issues about philosophical methodology as they arise in general jurisprudence. Certainly in the Anglophone world and increasingly outside it, H.L.A. Hart’s 1961 book The Concept of Law has dominated the discussion. Unsurprisingly, then, methodological debates typically scrutinize either one of two (related) methodological claims in Hart’s classic work. The first is that his theory is both general and descriptive (Hart 1994: 239). The second is that his theory is an exercise in both linguistic analysis and descriptive sociology (Hart 1994: vi). We explicate both ideas, arguing, in particular, that (1) Hart aims to give an essentialist analysis of law and legal systems (a point clearest in those who follow him like J. Raz, J. Dickson and [though less of a follower] S. Shapiro), and (2) we can make sense of the linking of linguistic (and conceptual) analysis and descriptive sociology if we understand "law" as a constructed bit of "social reality" in something like John Searle's sense. The ensuing methodological debates in legal philosophy can then be understood as arguing against either linguistic or conceptual analysis (naturalists like B. Leiter), or against the idea of a purely descriptive jurisprudence (in different ways, J. Finnis, S. Perry, M. Murphy, L. Murphy, R. Dworkin).

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: H.L.A. Hart, methodology, descriptive jurisprudence, conceptual analysis, John Searle, legal philosophy, general jurisprudence

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Date posted: October 28, 2012 ; Last revised: September 10, 2013

Suggested Citation

Langlinais, Alex and Leiter, Brian, The Methodology of Legal Philosophy (September 6, 2013). H. Cappelen, T. Gendler, & J. Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology, Forthcoming; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 407. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2167498

Contact Information

Alex Langlinais
University of Chicago ( email )
1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
Brian Leiter (Contact Author)
University of Chicago ( email )
1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
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