Chair: Professor Mark Freedland

 

Abstract: Should legal scholarship aspire to be more than a description of legal rules and principles?  Mapping the law can provide useful information for lawyers and laymen for many different purposes.  But does and should legal scholarship offer greater value than a cartographic service for the economy?  Legal scholarship reveals implicitly a number of answers to that question, but seldom are these answers articulated and defended.  Many legal scholars even appear to deny that they are doing more than describing the law.  My paper reflects on the different ways in which criticism of the law, going beyond a faithful mapping of its content, is introduced or smuggled into legal scholarship.  In particular, it is suggested that much (but not all) legal scholarship in the UK can be divided into two broad camps: those who construct foundations for the law in principles or rights, and those who pursue in various guises an agenda of sociological jurisprudence.  Having considered the virtues and vices of the available techniques of mapping the law, these two broad camps of criticism in legal scholarship will themselves by subjected to critical inspection.  My aim is not to deny the value and importance of these various approaches to legal scholarship, but rather to encourage greater reflection on their presuppositions and methodological difficulties.