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Tamanaha, Brian

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Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy
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Introduction

Brian Tamanaha’s work divides into two main projects. The first project involves a repudiation of much of contemporary legal theory, which Tamanaha sees as dominated by the school of analytic jurisprudence (and in particular by legal positivism). As an alternative to analytical jurisprudence, Tamanaha seeks to develop a more interdisciplinary approach which will “infuse legal theory with insights from social scientific approaches to law, and vice versa” (Tamanaha 2001, xviii). Tamanaha’s second project is more narrowly focused on defending the rule of law against legal instrumentalism. However, he does not use the traditional method of external constraints on legal actors to achieve this.

Tamanaha’s First Project: Realistic Socio-legal Theory at Work

Tamanaha’s “thoroughly social, non-essentialist, behaviour-based view of the law” (Tamanaha 1997, 245) leads him to critique two common jurisprudential questions: (1) “what is law?” and (2) “what is the source of law?” His...

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References

  • Robertson M (2014) Stanley fish on philosophy, politics and law: how fish works. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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  • Tamanaha B (1997) Realistic socio-legal theory: pragmatism and a social theory of law. Clarendon Press, Oxford

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  • Tamanaha B (2001) A general jurisprudence of law and society. Oxford University Press, Oxford

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  • Tamanaha B (2004) On the rule of law: history, politics, theory. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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  • Tamanaha B (2006) Law as a means to an end: threat to the rule of law. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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  • Tamanaha B (2010) Beyond the formalist-realist divide: the role of politics in judging. Princeton University Press, Princeton

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  • Tamanaha B (2017) A realistic theory of law. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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Robertson, M. (2023). Tamanaha, Brian. In: Sellers, M., Kirste, S. (eds) Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6519-1_311

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