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Access_open Art, Science and the Poetry of Justice – ­Pragmatist Aesthetics and Its Importance for Law and Legal Education

Special Issue on Pragmatism and Legal Education ­Sanne Taekema & Thomas Riesthuis (eds.)

Tijdschrift Law and Method, maart 2021
Trefwoorden legal research, legal education, epistemology, law, science and art
Auteurs Wouter de Been
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Classic pragmatists like John Dewey entertained an encompassing notion of science. This pragmatic belief in the continuities between a scientific, ethical and cultural understanding of the world went into decline in the middle of the 20th century. To many mid-century American and English philosophers it suggested a simplistic faith that philosophy and science could address substantive questions about values, ethics and aesthetics in a rigorous way. This critique of classic pragmatism has lost some of its force in the last few decades with the rise of neo-pragmatism, but it still has a hold over disciplines like economics and law. In this article I argue that this criticism of pragmatism is rooted in a narrow conception of what science entails and what philosophy should encompass. I primarily focus on one facet: John Dewey’s work on art and aesthetics. I explain why grappling with the world aesthetically, according to Dewey, is closely related to dealing with it scientifically, for instance, through the poetic and aesthetic development of metaphors and concepts to come to terms with reality. This makes his theory of art relevant, I argue, not only to studying and understanding law, but also to teaching law.


Wouter de Been
Wouter de Been is a legal theorist who has written widely on pragmatism and legal realism. I would like to thank the reviewers for their comments. Their critical commentary made this a much better article. Any remaining shortcomings are of course my own. I dedicate this article to the memory of Willem Witteveen, who always saw the art in law.
Artikel

Access_open Teaching Comparative Law, Pragmatically (Not Practically)

Special Issue on Pragmatism and Legal Education, Sanne Taekema & Thomas Riesthuis (eds.)

Tijdschrift Law and Method, oktober 2020
Trefwoorden comparative legal studies, legal education, pragmatism
Auteurs Alexandra Mercescu
Auteursinformatie

Alexandra Mercescu
Alexandra Mercescu, Ph.D is lecturer at the Department of Public Law, University of Timisoara, Romania.
Artikel

Access_open Using Case Studies for Research on Judicial Opinions. Some Preliminary Insights

Tijdschrift Law and Method, november 2019
Trefwoorden case study, judicial opinions, empirical legal research, qualitative methods, research on judicial opinions
Auteurs Mateusz Stępień
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    There is a pressing need to develop a research methodology for studying judicial opinions that goes beyond both dogmatic analyzes and the established positions developed within philosophy of law and legal theory (e.g. the hermeneutic and argumentative approaches). One possible way is to adopt or modify methodologies developed within empirically oriented social sciences. Most social science textbooks devoted to methodology of empirical research deal with case studies. So far, this research framework developed within the social sciences has not been applied directly to judicial opinions, though they have been used for some empirical legal research studies. Even et first sight, case study research would appear to have potential for use with judicial opinions. The aim of the paper is to answer the question, how and to what extent can case study methodology developed within the social sciences be fruitfully used to examine judicial opinions? The general answer is undoubtedly positive (case studies can bring new, non-trivial threads to the research methodology on judicial opinions), though with many serious and far-reaching reservations.


Mateusz Stępień
Assistant Professor, Department of Law and Administration, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland.

    In legal education, criticism is conceived as an academic activity. As lecturers, we expect from students more than just the expression of their opinion; they have to evaluate and criticize a certain practice, building on a sound argumentation and provide suggestions on how to improve this practice. Criticism not only entails a negative judgment but is also constructive since it aims at changing the current state of affairs that it rejects (for some reason or other). In this article, we want to show how we train critical writing in the legal skills course for first-year law students (Juridische vaardigheden) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. We start with a general characterization of the skill of critical writing on the basis of four questions: 1. Why should we train critical writing? 2. What does criticism mean in a legal context? 3. How to carry out legal criticism? and 4. How to derive recommendations from the criticism raised? Subsequently, we discuss, as an illustration to the last two questions, the Dutch Urgenda case, which gave rise to a lively debate in the Netherlands on the role of the judge. Finally, we show how we have applied our general understanding of critical writing to our legal skills course. We describe the didactic approach followed and our experiences with it.


Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is Professor of Legal Methodology, Department of Legal Theory and History, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Lyana Francot
Lyana Francot is Associate Professor of Legal Theory, Department of Legal Theory and History, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    This article introduces the concepts of play and playfulness within the context of legal-philosophical education. I argue that integrating play and playfulness in legal education engages students and prepares them for dealing with the perpetual uncertainty of late modernity that they will face as future legal professionals. This article therefore aims to outline the first contours of a useful concept of play and playfulness in legal education. Drawing on the work of leading play-theorists Huizinga, Caillois, Lieberman and Csikszentmihalyi, play within legal education can be described as a (1) partly voluntary activity that (2) enables achievement of learning goals, (3) is consciously separate from everyday life by rules and/or make believe, (4) has its own boundaries in time and space, (5) entails possibility, tension and uncertainty and (6) promotes the formation of social grouping. Playfulness is a lighthearted state of mind associated with curiosity, creativity, spontaneity and humor. Being playful also entails being able to cope with uncertainty. The integration of these concepts of play and playfulness in courses on jurisprudence will be illustrated by the detailed description of three play and playful activities integrated in the course ‘Introduction to Legal Philosophy’ at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


Hedwig van Rossum
Mr. H.E van Rossum, LL.M., is a lecturer-researcher in the Department of Legal Theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and has been teaching the freshman course ‘Introduction to Legal Philosophy’ since 2011.

    This paper starts by reviewing empirical research that threatens law and economics’ initial success. This research has demonstrated that the functioning of the law cannot be well understood based on the assumption of the rational actor and that policies which are based on this assumption are likely to be flawed. Subsequently, three responses to this criticism are discussed. Whereas the first response denounces this criticism by maintaining that the limitations attributed to the rational actor can easily be incorporated in rational choice theory, the second response welcomes the criticism as an opportunity to come up with an integrative theory of law and behavior. The third response also takes the criticism seriously but replaces the aspiration to come up with such an integrative theory by a context-sensitive approach. It will be argued that the first two responses fall short while the third response offers a promising way to go forward.


Peter Mascini
Prof. dr. P. Mascini, Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    In the last few decades, we have witnessed the renaissance of Comparative Constitutional law as field of research. Despite such a flourishing, the methodological foundations and the ultimate ratio of Constitutional comparative law are still debated among scholars. This article starts from the definition of comparative constitutional law given by one of the most prominent comparative constitutional law scholars in Italy, prof. Bognetti, who defined comparative constitutional law as the main joining ring between the historical knowledge of the modern law and the history of the humankind in general and of its various civil realizations. Comparative constitutional law is in other words a kind of mirror of the “competing vision of who we are and who we wish to be as a political community” (Hirschl), reflecting the structural tension between universalism and particularism, globalization and tradition.
    The article aims at addressing the main contemporary methodological challenges faced by the studies of the field. The article argues that contemporary comparative constitutional studies should address these challenges integrating the classical “horizontal” comparative method with a vertical one - regarding the international and supranational influences on constitutional settings - and fostering an interdisciplinary approach, taking into account the perspective of the social sciences.


Antonia Baraggia
Emile Noël Fellow, Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice, NYU School of Law and Post-doc Fellow in Constitutional Law, University of Milan. For helpful comments on an earlier draft I am grateful to Luca Pietro Vanoni, Sofia Ranchordas and two anonymous reviewers.

    Both H.L.A. Hart and John Searle repeatedly refer to games in their work on the concept of law and the construction of social reality respectively. We can argue that this is not a coincidence, Hart’s analysis of law as a system of primary and secondary rules bears close resemblances to Searle’s analysis of social reality as a system of regulative and constitutive rules and the comparison to games leads to interesting insights about the ontology of law and legal epistemology. The present article explores both the institutional theory of law that can be devised on the basis of the work of Hart and Searle, the method of analytical philosophy they employ and the particular consequences that can be deduced for legal research from the resulting legal theory.


Arie-Jan Kwak
Dr. A.J. Kwak, Faculty of Law, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

    The purpose of this article is to investigate whether the notion of an interest should be taken more seriously than the notion of a right. It will be argued that it should; and not only because it can be just as amenable to the institutional taxonomical structure often said to be at the basis of rights thinking in law but also because the notion of an interest has a more epistemologically convincing explanatory power with respect to reasoning in law and its relation to social facts. The article equally aims to highlight some of the important existing work on the notion of an interest in law.


Geoffrey Samuel
Professor of Law, Kent Law School, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, U.K. This article is a much re-orientated, and updated, adaption of a paper published a decade ago: Samuel 2004, at 263. The author would like to thank the anonymous referees for their very helpful criticisms and observations on an earlier version of the manuscript.
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