Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

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| Editors: Mortimer Sellers, Stephan Kirste

American Realism - Development and Critique

Living reference work entry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0_336-2


The label “American Legal Realism” stands not for a discrete doctrine or single idea but for a movement in American legal thought that flourished in the interwar years and for the general “approach to law, adjudication, and legal education” associated with it (Fisher et al. 1993, xi). American Legal Realist thought has many aspects, but among the most distinctive and influential of these is the Realist perspective on the study of law and in particular the question of what should (and what should not) be the principal object and methods of a science of law. The present entry deals with this aspect of American Legal Realism.

The American Legal Realists of the 1920s and 1930s were a diverse group with a range of scholarly outlooks and interests (Kronman 1993, 185–186). In fact, there is not even a canonical, exhaustive list of Realists. (The figures cited herein as American Realists – Felix Cohen, Walter Wheeler Cook, Jerome Frank, Leon Green, Joseph Hutcheson, Karl...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Chicago Law SchoolChicagoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Pierluigi Chiassoni
    • 1
  1. 1.Università degli Studi di GenovaGenovaItaly