Philosophy of Law in Medieval Judaism and Islam

  • Charles E. Butterworth


Properly speaking, there is no philosophy of law in medieval Judaism and Islam. In its place is jurisprudence, that is, the art or science that seeks to explain what the revealed law of either tradition means with respect to one particular situation or another and how it is to be applied. Similarly, jurisprudence entails moving from what is explicitly spoken of by the particular revealed law to what is not—extending that law to new phenomena or new applications. But philosophy of law understood as “philosophical reflections upon the general foundation of law […] derived from an existing philosophical position” or leading “to such a position” (Friedrich 1958, 3) is not to be found in either one of these traditions; nor is it desired. The reason is quite simple: Law in medieval (and contemporary) Judaism and Islam is Law with a capital “L.” It is divine law handed down to a particular religious community by a divinely inspired lawgiver, a prophet or a messenger of the Almighty.


Political Science Practical Wisdom Political Regime Theoretical Virtue Practical Science 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles E. Butterworth
    • 1
  1. 1.Social Philosophy and Policy FoundationBowling GreenUSA

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