Law and Social Theory: Three Problems

19 Pages Posted: 5 May 2014

See all articles by Gunther Teubner

Gunther Teubner

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität

Date Written: May 4, 2014


The article deals with three problems in the relation between law and social theory: (1) Competition between theories: How is the law supposed to make a selection if competing social theories give rise to mutually incompatible analyses of social phenomena? (2) Knowledge transfer: Can the results of social theories be directly applied within the law? Can social theories guide the selection of legal rules and sanctions? (3) Finally, there is the extremely difficult question of the normativity of social theories: Can normative criteria for legal practice be derived from social theories? The article uses the problem of the so-called publication bias – the commercial manipulation of medical research data – as an example.

Keywords: Law and social theory, sociological jurisprudence, theory catastrophe, knowledge transfer, normativity, publication bias

JEL Classification: K00, K10

Suggested Citation

Teubner, Gunther, Law and Social Theory: Three Problems (May 4, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Gunther Teubner (Contact Author)

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität ( email )

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Frankfurt am Main, D-60323
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