Naturalism in the Legal Sciences © Benjamin Bindewald/Unsplash

Naturalism in the Legal Sciences

Interdisciplinary cooperation is becoming more and more important for the legal sciences; nevertheless, legal methodology and doctrine have remained largely resistant to the influence of the empirical sciences. This is due, first, to the defensive attitude most German legal scholars take towards the empirical sciences. They argue that the law is a normative science, and, thus, the descriptive findings of these disciplines can have no bearing on the law. Second, legal science lacks a theoretical foundation on the basis of which empirical findings could be incorporated into legal doctrine and legal methodology.
The aim of this project is to develop such a foundation and to question the basic tenets of normativism. The goal is to develop a naturalistic theory of law, which will provide legal scholars with a naturalistic method for legal methodology and doctrine that enables them to make use of the findings of the empirical sciences – the cognitive sciences, in particular – to analyze legal concepts and reasoning structures.
This naturalistic legal theory will differ substantially from existing “naturalistic” approaches in the legal sciences. Drawing from W.V.O. Quine’s philosophical naturalism, the goal of the project is to sketch a means of establishing conceptual and methodological continuity between the disciplines instead of unreflectively replacing legal concepts and methods with those of the natural sciences.


Expected outcome: dissertation
Research focus: I. Foundations
Project language: German
Photo: © Benjamin Bindewald/Unsplash

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