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Access_open Thought Experiments in Law

Special Issue on Experimental Legislation in Times of Crisis, Sofia Ranchordas & Bart van Klink (eds.)

Tijdschrift Law and Method, mei 2021
Trefwoorden legal empirical studies, legal methodology, philosophy of law, thought experiments
Auteurs Gabriel Doménech-Pascual
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Thought experiments have been widely used in virtually all sciences and humanities. Law is no exception. We can find countless instances of such experiments in both the legal practice and the legal theory. However, this method has hardly been studied by legal scholars, which contrasts with the vast literature devoted to it in other fields of knowledge. This article analyses the role that some thought experiments – those where an imaginary legal change is made, and its social effects are observed – may play in law. In particular, we show why these empirical legal thought experiments might be useful for the practice and theory of law, the main principles for conducting them and how the law deals with them.


Gabriel Doménech-Pascual
Dr. Gabriel Doménech-Pascual, PhD is full professor of Administrative Law at the University of Valencia, Spain. I thank Bart van Klink, Sofia Ranchordas, Alba Soriano, María José Añón, Pablo de Lora, Diego Papayannis, Arturo Muñoz, Violeta Ruiz, Pedro Herrera, Viviana Ponce de León, Maximiliano Marzetti, and two anonymous referees for their useful and thoughtful comments. All remaining errors are mine.

    In this paper, an attempt is made to work out a methodology for comparative legal research, which goes beyond the ‘functional method’ or methodological scepticism.
    The starting point is the idea that we need a ‘toolbox’, not a fixed methodological road map, and that a lot of published, but largely unnoticed, research outside rule and case oriented comparative law offers varying approaches, which could usefully be applied in comparative research. Six methods have been identified: the functional method, the structural one, the analytical one, the law-in-context method, the historical method, and the common core method. Basically, it is the aim of the research and the research question that will determine which methods could be useful. Moreover, different methods may be combined, as they are complementary and not mutually exclusive.This paper focuses on scholarly comparative legal research, not on the use of foreign law by legislators or courts, but, of course, the methodological questions and answers will largely overlap.


Mark Van Hoecke
Professor of Comparative Law at Queen Mary University of London, and Professor of Legal Theory and Comparative Law at Ghent University

    Public law is sometimes said to deal with distributive justice. Such allocation issues are at least very dominant when public authorities grant only a limited number of public rights (authorizations, subsidies, etc.) and the number of applicants exceeds this maximum. The characteristics common to these ’limited public rights’ raise the question whether there are some general allocation rules applying to any allocation of limited public rights. This article shows how economic allocation theory can be helpful in constructing general allocation rules as a corollary of general legal principles. Allocation theory turns out to provide for general concepts and results clarifying general allocation rules and revealing mutual connections. Extending this allocation perspective from limited public rights to public law in general requires the hidden allocation issues in public law to be unveiled.


Johan Mr.dr. Wolswinkel
C.J. Wolswinkel LLM MSc PhD is Assistant Professor at the VU University Amsterdam and participates in the research programme Public Contracts: Law and Governance of the VU Centre for Law and Governance. This article expands some methodological issues developed in his PhD thesis De verdeling van schaarse publiekrechtelijke rechten. Op zoek naar algemene regels van verdelingsrecht (The Hague: Boom Juridische uitgevers 2013).
Artikel

Access_open Approaching Law through Conflicts

Tijdschrift Law and Method, 2011
Trefwoorden Latour, modernity of law, legal procedure, proof, qualification of facts
Auteurs Niels van Dijk
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In this article the author presents Latour’s negative analysis of modernity and his positive ethnographical studies of the modes of existence of our modern world. I will discuss the merits and disadvantages of his specific approach on law – an institutional ethnography of the French Conseil d’Etat – within this framework. The analysis will be supplemented with the results of a conflict-based approach to a case study in patent law at a law firm.


Niels van Dijk
Niels van Dijk LL.M. is onderzoeker bij het Center for Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
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