Friday, 24th November 2017 – What is legal knowledge? By Prof. Geoffrey Samuel

Friday, November 24th 2017 / 14.30 – 16.30

Professor Geoffrey Samuel

(Kent Law School & Sciences Po Paris)

 What is legal knowledge? In tackling this question, this seminar will be a response to an imaginary request from the editor of a work on social science epistemology who would like to see in the edited book a contribution from law. Prof. Samuel will assert that arguments about the nature of legal knowledge cannot be resolved in any definitive way by a legal or social science epistemologist. This may seem surprising given that there are solid core texts – statutes and cases – a range of which have to be known in order to qualify as a lawyer or (and) jurist. Yet it is the scholarship on and around these texts which proves problematic.

How, then, would a chapter on law in an edited work on social science epistemology read? Arguably it would reveal a series of tensions that exist within the discipline of law around which knowledge issues are debated. These tensions can be summed up in four dichotomies: (1) diachronic versus synchronic; (2) formalism versus realism (construed widely); (3) law versus law-makers; and (4) authority paradigm versus inquiry paradigm. Perhaps there are more than four, but many other tensions can be seen as cross-currents and under-currents within these four generic groupings. One other issue stands out. If jurists are to be taken seriously by those in other disciplines law must be seen not just to profit from epistemological scholarship in general but actively to contribute to this general scholarship. How might it do this? There is no easy answer, but a number of responses will be raised at the seminar.

Discussant: Catalina Avasilencei

 Friday November 24th, 2017

Meeting Room, Ecole de Droit, 14.30 – 16.30

4th floor (room 410T), 13 rue de l’université, 75007 Paris



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