The Politics of Jurisprudence Revisited: A Swedish Realist in Historical Context

14 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2015

See all articles by Roger Cotterrell

Roger Cotterrell

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: March 2015

Abstract

This article argues that juristic theories must be understood in relation to the historical conditions in which they have emerged. This is not to reduce theories to their context but to gain essential insight into their aims, meaning, and scope with the aid of such “external” reference points. Here I use the ideas of the Swedish legal realist Vilhelm Lundstedt to illustrate these claims, choosing his juristic theory for this purpose specifically because it has been so widely seen (at least by non‐Scandinavian interpreters) as deeply puzzling and “extreme.” The article argues that his central ideas are readily intelligible in historical context. But such a contextual examination of juristic ideas also makes it possible to assess what in them can properly travel beyond immediate context: in other words, what insights about the nature of the jurist's task can legitimately be taken from them for more universal application. Lundstedt's work, despite having been largely ignored or excluded from international juristic debate, has something to offer here if seen through a contextualising lens that sets the possibilities for its broader application in sharp relief.

Suggested Citation

Cotterrell, Roger, The Politics of Jurisprudence Revisited: A Swedish Realist in Historical Context (March 2015). Ratio Juris, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 1-14, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2566562 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/raju.12064

Roger Cotterrell (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law ( email )

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