Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Pier Giuseppe Monateri
Chapter 7: Descriptive and Purposive Categories of Comparative Law
Sebastian McEvoy INTRODUCTION The purpose of this book on the methods of comparative law is to propose an interdisciplinary understanding of comparative law whereas comparative law usually consists in comparing the law in two or more legal systems on a particular issue. Thus briefed on the overall purpose, the present author, presumably like the others, was given the freedom to write on whichever subject he preferred, but asked to focus on what he ‘did’ and on what he ‘expected to reach’ when he compared. In 2010, the organizers of a conference on law and literature also requested participants to stop and think about their practice.1 This recalls conceptual art, for which conception matters more than execution. It has therefore appeared appropriate to submit a chapter in ‘conceptual research’, on (A) the descriptive and (B) the purposive categories of comparative law. The categories proposed in (A) derive from the possible terms of comparison rather than from actual comparisons as found in books and articles. The word ‘comparison’ in (A) merely means something like ‘bringing together’ or ‘relating’, for instance English and French law, present and past law, law and linguistics, law and economics, and so on. (B) presents the assimilation or distinguishing of terms as one operation among others. Comparative law can also explain the similarities or differences, it can make one term the cause of the other, it can criticize the differences, etc. The categorization has the effect of redeﬁning comparative law and provides the coordinates to locate research...
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