Indirectly and Directly Evaluative Legal Theory: A Reply to Julie Dickson
Diritto e Questioni Pubbliche, No. 12, 2012, pp. 183-210
29 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2012 Last revised: 6 Jan 2013
Date Written: 2012
Owing to its methodological approach legal theory is usually divided into descriptive, presumably non-evaluative, and normative, i.e. evaluative and justificatory, legal theory. In her Evaluation and Legal Theory Julie Dickson rejects this dichotomy. She argues that all legal theory is evaluative in one way or another. Therefore, she introduces a dichotomy between indirectly evaluative and directly evaluative legal theory. Whereas directly evaluative legal theory has the task of evaluating law morally, indirectly evaluative legal theory makes evaluative judgements as to what features of law are most important and significant to explain. In my paper I first set out Dickson’s account of the ‘evaluative-but-not-morally-evaluative’ view of legal theory and then critically examine this account. Finally, I make some remarks concerning the fruitfulness of Dickson’s dichotomy between indirectly and directly evaluative legal theory.
Keywords: methodology of legal theory, indirectly evaluative legal theory, Dickson, judgements of importance
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