jurisprudence-newsletter2008-02.pdf - Jurisprudence February 2008 newsletter Wayne Morrison Connecting the syllabus contrasting perspectives The theme

jurisprudence-newsletter2008-02.pdf - Jurisprudence...

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Jurisprudence February 2008 newsletter Wayne Morrison Connecting the syllabus: contrasting perspectives The theme of this newsletter is connections and contrasts. It arises as I am often asked for guidance as to the social theory parts of the Jurisprudence and Legal Theory syllabus and to indicate how, if at all, the social theoretical accounts fit with the philosophical perspectives in the first part of the syllabus. It is important to see contrasts – to look for ways in which different perspectives can be contrasted and compared. The subject guide and the examiners reports make clear that the examiners are looking for answers which show evidence of wide reading, critical analysis and in-depth understanding. We are not looking for answers that repeat or simply summarise notes, but answers that take the issues in the question and address them, answers that give us an argument. Some answers demonstrate a tendency to view the areas of the syllabus as self- contained, however, you will benefit from reading widely and gaining as wide a rage of perspectives as possible. A related question sometimes asked is whether a ‘route map’ of the syllabus can be provided that integrates the different items? In board terms, the answer to that question depends on your understanding of the nature of Jurisprudence and the reason for studying it. In Globalisation & Legal Theory ( Butterworths: 2000) William Twining (formerly Quain Professor of Legal Theory at University College London) suggested that we can conceive of jurisprudence from at least three different perspectives – as a heritage, as ideology, and as an activity. In the first sense, jurisprudence is a heritage of texts and ideas. A heritage which is so vast that teachers and scholars are forced to make a selection at any given time and these selections are somewhat a product of the fashion of the time and what is considered the pressing issues of the age. When they become institutionalised they can be considered as a `canon’, a list of authors or texts that has been recognised officially or by convention as being standard or important. In the second sense, jurisprudence can be viewed as ideology. Here the term ideology is used either in the Marxist sense of a body of beliefs fashioned and often distorted by self-interest which is typically used to mystify, justify or legitimate an existing legal regime or order, or as a more neutral term referring to a general system of beliefs. In both senses one’s beliefs about law are intimately connected to one’s more general beliefs about ethics, politics, society, and the nature of the world. In a challenging book which would clearly fall within the description of the British CLS camp [ Dangerous Supplements: Resistance and renewal in Jurisprudence , Pluto Press, 1991], Peter Fitzpatrick termed jurisprudence ‘the theorised prejudice of lawyers’ and claimed ‘its proponents strive to ensure the viability of law and to maintain law’s authority’. Fitzpatrick’s aim was to show how accounts from social External Undergraduate Laws Programme, University of London Page 1 of 5
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