Aspects of Freedom and Restriction in the Sciences

  • G. E. Langemeijer


It may seem curious that the task of writing a report in which science (the word throughout will be used in its widest sense) is the focus of interest, has been entrusted to a jurist. After all there is grave doubt whether the work that forms the greatest part of what we call legal science bears a purely scientific character or even only a preponderantly scientific one. Personally I am inclined to answer this question in the negative. On the other hand there may be much to be said for choosing a jurist. In the first place, even though guidance in the application of the law, which after all is the chief occupation of the majority of students of legal sciences, is performed according to a method that differs essentially from a scientific one, yet it has this in common with scientific methods that it subjects whoever applies it to a discipline which forbids him to follow his own wishes or those of others, which he would otherwise probably like to take into account. It is true that the methods of theoretical law are flexible and it is also true that the law itself may be the object of considerable differences of opinion, it yet is subject to rules which he is not at liberty to overlook, even though there is no coercion from without. These rules are laid down in the unequivocal words of the law and in the well-established habits of administration of the law and suchlike. It is true that according to the interpretation prevailing at the present day these rules do not exclude every deviation, however small under all circumstances. It is precisely this peculiarity, namely that the possibility and degree of such a deviation always falls to his responsibility, which makes the jurist become still more aware of his methods as a disciplinary system, makes him feel still more obliged to take into account the great venerability of the law, and gives him still greater reason than others to be prepared to repulse any pressure that would make him fail in this duty. And moreover, one of the main forces that might limit the freedom of science is the law, and for this reason a jurist is certainly more particularly called upon to judge.


Legal Order Real Science Economic Pressure Scientific Calling Chief Occupation 
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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1955

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  • G. E. Langemeijer

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