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Aflevering 2, 2015 Alle samenvattingen uitklappen
Article

Access_open Introduction: The Incorporation Problem in Interdisciplinary Legal Research

Part 1: Theoretical Discussions

Auteurs Sanne Taekema en Wibren van der Burg
Auteursinformatie

Sanne Taekema
Sanne Taekema is Professor of Jurisprudence at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam.

Wibren van der Burg
Wibren van der Burg is Professor of Legal Philosophy and Jurisprudence at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam.

    The paper offers a legal theoretical analysis of the disciplinary character of the contemporary practice of legal scholarship. It is assumed that the challenges of interdisciplinary engagement are particularly revealing about the nature of legal scholarship. The paper argues for an understanding of legal scholarship that revolves around cultivating doctrinal knowledge about law. Legal scholarship is characterised as a normative and interpretive discipline that offers an internalist and non-instrumentalist perspective on law. The paper also argues that interdisciplinary engagement is sometimes necessary for legal scholars because some concepts and ideas built into the doctrinal structures of law cannot be made fully intelligible by way of pure normative legal analysis. This point is developed with the help of an epistemological clarification of doctrinal knowledge and anchored in an account of the practice of legal scholarship. The paper explores the implications of this account by way of analysing three paradigms of interdisciplinary engagement that respond to distinctive challenges facing legal scholarship: (1) understanding better the extra-legal origins of legal ideas, (2) managing discursive encounters that can generate frictions between disciplinary perspectives, and (3) building the knowledge base to handle challenge of validating policy initiatives that aim at changing the law. In different ways, all three challenges may require legal scholars to build competence in other disciplines. The third paradigm has particular relevance for understanding the methodological profile of legal scholarship. Legal scholarship is the only discipline with specific focus on how the social environment affects the doctrinal structures of law.


Matyas Bodig
Dr Matyas Bodig is Senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen School of Law, Aberdeen, UK.

    The seriousness of the incorporation problem in interdisciplinary legal research, this article argues, depends on how legal research is understood. If legal research is understood as a single, inherently interdisciplinary discipline, the problem largely falls away. On this view, the incorporation of other disciplines into legal research is what legal academics have for the last 40 years already successfully been doing. If, on the other hand, legal research is best conceived as a multi-disciplinary field, consisting of a core discipline – doctrinal research – and various other types of mono-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, the incorporation of other disciplines presents real difficulties. For legal academics engaged in socio-legal research, in particular, two problems arise: the practical problem of trying to address a legal professional and academic audience at the same time and the philosophical problem of trying to integrate the internal perspective of doctrinal research with the external perspective of other disciplines. In the final part of the article, these practical and philosophical difficulties are illustrated by reference to the author’s research on the politics of judicial review in new democracies.


Theunis Robert Roux
Theunis Robert Roux is Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

    This article studies the significance of insights from non-legal disciplines (such as political science, economics, and sociology) for comparative legal research and the methodology connected with such ‘interdisciplinary contextualisation’. Based on a theoretical analysis concerning the nature and methodology of comparative law, the article demonstrates that contextualisation of the analysis of legal rules and case law is required for a meaningful comparison between legal systems. The challenges relating to this contextualisation are illustrated on the basis of a study of the judicial use of comparative legal analysis as a source of inspiration in the judgment of difficult cases. The insights obtained from the theoretical analysis and the example are combined in a final analysis concerning the role and method of interdisciplinary contextualisation in comparative legal analysis conducted by legal scholars and legal practitioners.


Elaine Mak Ph.D.
Endowed Professor of Empirical Study of Public Law, in particular of Rule-of-Law Institutions, at Erasmus School of Law. Contact: mak@law.eur.nl.