Methodology and Innovation in Jurisprudence

34 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2023 Last revised: 12 Dec 2023

See all articles by Kevin Tobia

Kevin Tobia

Georgetown University Law Center; Georgetown University - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: December 1, 2023


Jurisprudence aims to identify and explain important features of law. To accomplish this task, what method should one employ? Elucidating Law, a tour de force in “the philosophy of legal philosophy,” develops an instructive account of how philosophers “elucidate law,” which in turn elucidates jurisprudence’s own aims and methods. This Review introduces the book, with emphasis on its discussion of methodology.

Next, the Review proposes complementing methodological clarification with methodological innovation. Jurisprudence should ask some timeless questions, but its methods need not stagnate. Consider that jurisprudence has a long tradition of asserting claims about how “we” understand the law—in which “we” might refer to all people, citizens of a jurisdiction, ordinary people, legal experts, or legal officials. There are now rich empirical literatures that bear on these claims, and methods from “experimental jurisprudence” and related disciplines can assess untested assertions. Today’s jurisprudence can achieve greater rigor by complementing traditional methods with empirical ones.

Keywords: legal philosophy, methodology, intuition, Elucidating Law, experimental jurisprudence, experimental philosophy

Suggested Citation

Tobia, Kevin, Methodology and Innovation in Jurisprudence (December 1, 2023). Columbia Law Review, Vol. 123, pages 2483-2516 (2023), Available at SSRN:

Kevin Tobia (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

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