Consequences of Pragmatic Conceptualism: On the Methodology Problem in Jurisprudence

17 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2009

See all articles by Damiano Canale

Damiano Canale

Bocconi University - Department of Law

Date Written: January 16, 2009


There has been a notable revival of interest in the debate on jurisprudential methodology in the last decade. On the one hand, the traditional terms of this debate have been enriched with new argumentative resources, which are meant to clarify whether jurisprudential claims can describe the social reality of law or necessarily aim at modifying it. On the other hand, a further philosophical challenge, namely that of naturalized jurisprudence, has attempted to reframe jurisprudential methodology by claiming that jurisprudence is the abstract and general part of the empirical research about law and thus has no special method of investigating its subject matter.

The purpose of this paper is to address some of the main issues of contemporary jurisprudential methodology by considering Jules Coleman's contribution to it. After an explanation of Coleman's methodological approach and the clarification of its philosophical background, the paper focuses critically on some related problems, such as the relation between linguistic meaning and conceptual content in the legal domain, the nature of legal concepts, the different aspects of the normativity of content, and the revisibility of conceptual truths. The discussion of these problems will permit, among other things, the clarification of some substantial theses of Coleman's inclusive positivism, which run the risk of being misunderstood if considered out of the methodological context that makes them meaningful.

Suggested Citation

Canale, Damiano, Consequences of Pragmatic Conceptualism: On the Methodology Problem in Jurisprudence (January 16, 2009). Bocconi Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-01, Available at SSRN:

Damiano Canale (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Law ( email )

Via Roentgen, 1
Milan, Milan 20136

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