The Limits of Experimental Jurisprudence
Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence, Forthcoming
14 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2022 Last revised: 21 Jul 2022
Date Written: July 19, 2022
This chapter offers a critique of experimental jurisprudence. While experimental jurisprudence can make an important contribution to legal knowledge and legal theory, theorists and practitioners of experimental should also be aware of its limitations. Experimental jurisprudence cannot, by itself, resolve legal theoretical debates. It is just one limited tool, with an important but partial role to play in the collective project of understanding and evaluating law and legal rules, institutions, and practices. This chapter explores some of the limitations of experimental jurisprudence in special jurisprudence (i.e., legal theories concerned with specific legal concepts or areas of law) and general jurisprudence (i.e., legal theories concerned with the nature of law, legal rules, and institutions). It also argues that, if we want to fully understand law and legal concepts, practices, and institutions, experimental jurisprudence needs to be supplemented with other perspectives - such as those provided by anthropology, qualitative research, and the humanities - that can capture precisely what experimental jurisprudence must necessarily ignore: the fact that law is a complex institutional social practice.
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