Law and Philosophy

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 477-497

First online:

On Naturalizing Jurisprudence: Some Comments on Brian Leiter’s View of What Jurisprudence Should Become

  • Julie DicksonAffiliated withFaculty of Law, University of OxfordSomerville College Email author 

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In a series of powerful and challenging articles emerging since the mid-1990s, Brian Leiter has argued that certain theoretical strains in contemporary legal philosophy are ‘epistemologically bankrupt’, in virtue of their reliance on misguided argumentative devices: analysing concepts, such as the concepts of law and of authority; and doing so by appealing to intuitions regarding the correct way to understand the concepts in question. In response to this state of affairs, Leiter advocates that jurisprudence ought to attempt to catch-up with ‘naturalistic’ developments which have influenced the direction of other branches of philosophy – such as epistemology, philosophy of mind, and moral philosophy – in the last few decades. This article offers a critical analysis of some of Leiter’s proposals for what Jurisprudence should become, in light of his views on the relevance of naturalism for this discipline.