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Interdisciplinarity and the Authority Paradigm: Should Law Be Taken Seriously by Scientists and Social Scientists?

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This article questions whether those outside law should take law seriously as an intellectual discipline capable of contributing to the development of epistemological thinking in the natural and social sciences. The discipline is approached from a diachronic and synchronic position with emphasis on the civil law tradition. It will be shown that the governing paradigm in legal studies has always been the ‘authority paradigm’, which results in law being closer to theology than to the social sciences. Its principal actors (judges) make assertions free from the normal constraints of scientific method; accordingly, the idea of a ‘legal science’ (imported into the common law tradition after 1846) must be treated with great caution. It is not a science dedicated to enquiring about the nature of the physical world, society or social relations. Its epistemological development remains trapped in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: thus, as a discipline, law has little to offer other social sciences.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Kent Law School, Eliot College, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NS, England., Email:

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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