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Other theories..?

Updated: Sep 25

What are other legal theories are there? Law, rules, sovereigns seem to be quite dull... Are there any other EXCITING theories?!


  • opposes formalism (law is determinate)

  • two types of realism: American (rule-sceptic) and Scandinavian (metaphysic-sceptic)

American Realism

  • seen as behaviorist - "outward manifestation of mental processes"

  • founding father, Oliver Wendell Holmes

"The common law is not a brooding omnipresence in the sky, but the articulate voice of some sovereign or quasi sovereign that can be identified..."
  • obsessed with the empirical effects of the law

  • law is in flux/moving

  • law is a means of social ends rather than ends itself

  • concedes that law is neutral and embraces liberalism

  • Karl Llewellyn

  • identifies two types of law (Formal and Grand)

  1. Grand Style - judges are more considerate of policies (favored by him)

  2. Formal Style - judges relying on rule of law

  • six 'law-jobs' are needed as well as crafts (i.e., practice of the law)

  • Jerome Frank

  • differentiates fact-sceptic (i.e., elusive facts in trial) and rule-sceptic (i.e., rules are not certain)

  • Criticisms of American Realism:

  • some argue that this is prone to tyranny

  • Brian Leiter: Realism is a 'jurisprudential joke'

Critical Race Theory

  • law is indeterminate and rejects that law is neutral and liberalism

  • legal thought is a form of 'denial' - contradictions that are too painful for our human mind

  • main beliefs demonstrated through opposing Roberto Unger:

  1. indeterminacy - no certain law

  2. anti-formalism

  3. contradiction - there is no dominant law view, instead many contradictory point of views

  4. marginalism - law is not a decisive factor

Postmodernism Legal Theory

  • does not believe in the universal values/'metanarratives'

  • new pragmatism: it has down-to-earth goals (political, ecological, and economic)

  • reject the idea of 'subject' and 'object'

  • Jacques Lacan (1901-81): "unconscious is structured like a language"

  • Justice is only "fantasy" that obscures the impossible goal of a "harmonious community"


How does women play a role in law?

Liberal Feminism

  • believe in the equality of law between women and men

  • especially emphasize in equality within employment

  • being criticized by radical of not relieving women from subjugation in the private domain (i.e., housework, etc.)

Radical Feminism

  • believe in the domination of power - currently patriarchal society

  • concern of legal consequences

"The injustice of sexism is not irrationality; it is domination."

Difference Feminism

  • revealing miscellaneous discrimination against women (e.g., criminal, tort, etc.)

Post-modern Feminism

  • focuses on the 'maleness' of law

  • devised three steps for feminist legal method:

  1. 'Ask the woman question': expound on rules that seem to be neutral but actually has 'gender implications'

  2. 'feminist practical reasoning': challenge the law's claim of having a majority

  3. 'consciousness-raising': highlight women's subjugation

Critical Race Theory

  • attack against law which innately reflects the opinions of 'privileged, elite, male, white majority'



The information provided above is all credited to Raymond Wacks's Philosophy of Law: A Very Short Introduction.

P.S. If you are really interested in exploring the world of jurisprudence (on 'What is law?"), make sure to check out his book!!

#jurisprudence #notes #introduction

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