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DANA B. TASCHNER

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Jurisprudence

 
 

Jurisprudence (from Latin: juris prudentia - by the activity of prudentes ; advisors, experts), is the philosophy, science, study, and application of law.

In modern studies jurisprudence is both the branch of humanist sciences that studies the law and the complex of legal principles that can be desumed by the sentences. Sentences are in this sense authoritative interpretations of the formal law that, starting from a concrete judicial case, usually contain general reflections on the sense and the scopes of the law, and on its potential extent.

Jurisprudence refers either of two things. First, in common law jurisdictions, it means simply "case law", i.e. the law that is established through the decisions of the courts and other officials. Second, it means the philosophy of law, or legal theory, which studies not what the law is in a particular jurisdiction (say, Turkey or the United States) but law in general--i.e. those attributes common to all legal systems.

Jurisprudence in the second sense is conventionally divided into two parts: descriptive, or analytic, jurisprudence, and normative jurisprudence. Analytic jurisprudence studies what law 'is'; normative jurisprudence studies what law 'ought to be'.

Among the most important questions of analytic jurisprudence are these: What is a law? What is a legal system? What is the relationship between law and power? What is the relationship between law and justice or morality? Does every society have a legal system? How should we understand concepts like legal rights and legal obligations or duties? The most influential works of analytic jurisprudence include: Jeremy Bentham, Of Laws in General; Hans Kelsen, The Pure Theory of Law; H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law; and Ronald Dworkin, Law's Empire.

Among the most important questions of normative jurisprudence are these: What is the proper function of law? What sorts of acts should be subject to punishment, and what sorts of punishment should be permitted? What is justice? What rights do we have? Is there a duty to obey the law? What value has the rule of law? The most influential works of normative jurisprudence include all the classics of political philosophy. Among contemporary writers, the following have been particularly influential: John Rawls, A Theory of Justice; H.L.A. Hart, Punishment and Responsibility; Joel Feinberg, The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law; Joseph Raz, The Morality of Freedom; Ronald Dworkin, A Matter of Principle.


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