Knowledge and Aphasia: What is the Use of Skeptical Legal Education?

21 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2014

Date Written: December 16, 2014


Law teachers at the university want students to develop a critical attitude. But what exactly does it mean to be critical and why is it important to be critical? How can a critical attitude be promoted? In this chapter, I intend to elucidate the role that critical thinking may play in legal education. To begin with, I will present the notion of skeptical legal education, which is inspired by Michael Oakeshott’s idea of liberal learning but which relativizes its insistence on the non-instrumentality of learning and reinforces its critical potential. Subsequently, I will address some critical questions that may be raised against this notion: Can everything be questioned? Should everything be questioned? And why need law students to be encouraged to be critical? Finally, I will show what the relevance may be of the suspension of judgment that skeptical legal education intends to bring about, both for the practice and the science of law.

Keywords: legal education, liberal learning, Oakeshott, critical legal education, CLS, Nussbaum, skepticism, deconstruction, Derrida

JEL Classification: I21, K10

Suggested Citation

van Klink, Bart, Knowledge and Aphasia: What is the Use of Skeptical Legal Education? (December 16, 2014). VU University Amsterdam Legal Studies Paper Series , Available at SSRN: or

Bart Van Klink (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics