The Scientific Model of Jurisprudence

  • Dan Priel
Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 106)


I argue in this essay that the popular “descriptive” approach to jurisprudence can be modeled after attempts at explaining natural phenomena by scientists. I present four assumptions that underlie this approach to jurisprudence, which are similar to those made by natural scientists. I then argue that in the case of jurisprudence (and unlike the natural sciences) these assumptions contradict each other. After presenting my case I respond to several potential objections to my argument. If my argument is correct, this shows that jurisprudential descriptivism is not just, as some have argued, unimportant, but rather that it is impossible. The paper suggests that those who claim to offer an account of the “nature” of law are in fact doing something else.


Evaluative Judgment Legal Philosopher Legal Positivist Secondary Rule Natural Lawyer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Osgoode Hall Law SchoolYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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