Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Peter L. Lindseth
Chapter 5: Administrative Law in East Asia: A Comparative-Historical Analysis
5 Administrative law in East Asia: a comparativehistorical analysis John Ohnesorge Comparative law has experienced its share of debate over both purpose and methodology. In fact, there are many things one might hope to accomplish through comparative scholarship, and no need to privilege one purpose over another. So long as the purpose of a particular project is made clear, readers will be able to decide for themselves what is gained from the comparison. The same can be said of method. There are many possible methods for doing comparative work, and so long as the chosen method is clear, readers will be able to judge for themselves whether the materials and the argument support the final conclusions. Self-reflection is important, but it also seems true that at some point debate over purpose and method can be paralyzing, getting in the way of comparative projects that might yield interesting insights. This chapter will spend relatively little time on purpose and method, not because they do not matter, but on the assumption that a classically pragmatic approach to such issues is perhaps the best way to proceed. There is no overarching truth, or authority, that will settle debates about purpose and method in comparative law, so a pragmatic approach asks instead whether a chosen purpose and method succeed in generating useful insights on the part of the researcher, or the reader. The fact that this chapter is also an exercise in comparative legal history offers another explanation for such a pragmatic approach. An...
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