Philosophical Questions at The Empirical Turn
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 153, 2019
European Journal of Legal Studies, Network of Legal Empirical Scholars (NoLesLaw) Special Issue, January 2019
13 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2019 Last revised: 17 Feb 2019
Date Written: January 29, 2019
Adopting a meta-perspective, this contribution focuses on the ongoing empirical turn in legal scholarship as such. A recurrent issue of controversy and (self-) doubts has to do with understanding the intricate relationship between empirical findings and more traditional doctrinal approaches to law. This discussion centers on the following line of questions: i) In what sense do empirical studies form part of a legal science? ii) Why, if at all, should they be pursued at a law faculty? iii) What do empirical studies tell us about valid law? iv) What do they tell us about what obligations and rights people have? v) How do empirical findings relate to the kind of knowledge traditionally sought in the doctrinal study of law? Rather than attempting to give an answer to these questions, this contribution suggests a taxonomical framework within which discussion about them ought to take place. Based on an analysis of the different stances taken by prominent theorists on the relation between traditional doctrinal work and empirical work in the legal field, the author suggests that we should distinguish between the following three attitudes on the relation between traditional legal doctrinal studies and empirical studies of law: toleration, replacement, and synthesis.
Keywords: empirical studies of law; epistemology of law; international legal theory; The empirical turn
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