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Facts, Fictions or Reasoning. Law as the Subject Matter of Jurisprudence

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This paper deals with the problems involved in the concept of knowledge in the sphere of law. Traditionally, the idea of knowledge has dealt with the presumption of given objects of information. According to this approach, knowing means finding these objects. This is the natural and understandable foundation of metaphysical or philosophical realism. Cognition and cognitive interest are directed outside the sentences by which they are described. This is the point of departure of legal positivism as well. However, it is not possible to see valid law as totally independent of language and concepts. This makes the idea of legal facts as institutional facts vague. From a practical viewpoint, the sentences of judges and legal scholars, when they present valid law, justify rather than describe. Their crucial function is interpretation. Hence, the objectivity of these sentences cannot be based on the presumption of separate objects either. Instead, it has to be based on the principles of acceptable reasoning. Moreover, the author claims that this kind of approach, united with the utilization of human rights and substantial legal principles, leads one to acknowledge objective values.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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