The Forgotten Jurisprudential Debate: Catholic Legal Thought's Response to Legal Realism
110 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2014 Last revised: 22 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 1, 2015
Although countless journal articles and numerous books have described Legal Realism, The Forgotten Jurisprudential Debate: Catholic Legal Thought’s Response to Legal Realism, is the first to describe the widespread and thoughtful critique of Realism by an organized jurisprudential movement of Catholic legal scholars during the 1930s-1940s.
In this Article, we accomplish three goals. First, we describe the standard historical narrative in which the contributions by Catholic legal scholars are ignored or marginalized. This gap is surprising because the critique offered by Catholic legal scholars constituted the single largest body of criticism aimed at Realists. This gap is doubly surprising because the arguments offered by Catholic legal scholars were generally thoughtful and nuanced, in large measure because they built on the world-wide Neo-Scholastic revival then taking place.
Second, we detail the neglected Catholic legal scholars’ critique of Legal Realism. We describe the major Catholic legal scholars and how their movement drew upon, reflected, and facilitated the world-wide revival of Thomistic philosophy. Like other intellectual movements, Catholic legal scholars sought to institutionalize their movement in various ways.
Third, we explore the oddness of historians’ neglect and marginalization of Catholic legal scholar contributions. We end by suggesting causes for the poverty of extant historical accounts.
Keywords: Legal Realism, Catholic legal thought, Thomism, Neo-Thomism, Neo-Scholasticism
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