In the face of an ever-growing amount of empirical inquiries in – or about – law and the legal discipline, this project will investigate whether and how German legal methodology (Methodenlehre) and doctrine (Dogmatik) can profit from the outcomes of these inquiries.
Legal methodology and doctrine are notoriously wary of interdisciplinary approaches, especially if the other discipline is an empirical one. Legal scholars seem to feel a need to defend their province, their concepts and methods against those who would examine them from an empirical perspective. The law is a normative discipline, they claim. It is a hermeneutical one and, as a product of human rationality, it is inaccessible to the empirical sciences.
This defensive stance is at the root of claims of methodological dualism (i.e. the claim that rational human actions have to be analysed with methods different from those used in all other sciences) in several other disciplines, most notably the social sciences and philosophy. In both these disciplines, there exist long-standing discussions about Naturalism (i.e. the contrary claim that the establishment of conceptual and methodological continuity between these disciplines and the natural sciences is possible and called for). In law, however, such a discussion has only in the last 15 years gained some small momentum, most notably through Brian Leiter’s 2007 book “Naturalizing Jurisprudence”.
This project asks the question whether the uneasy relationship between the empirical sciences and the law can be remedied by employing a strategy of naturalization to legal methodology and doctrine.
There seems to be some urgency to find such a remedy in the face of the growing trend of conducting “empirical legal studies”, which is starting to take a hold even in the rather hostile environment that is the German legal landscape. Without the right theoretical foundations, it will never amount to more than an ancillary science. For true interdisciplinarity to be possible, there needs to be conceptual and methodological continuity, i.e. a common ground, a shared vocabulary and methods that are intelligible beyond the bounds of the legal discipline.
Taking a Quinean approach to the law, this project attempts to reconceptualize legal concepts and methodologies such that such continuity with the empirical sciences becomes possible.
Expected outcome: dissertation.