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Rethinking Legal Reasoning

Geoffrey Samuel

‘Rethinking’ legal reasoning seems a bold aim given the large amount of literature devoted to this topic. In this thought-provoking book, Geoffrey Samuel proposes a different way of approaching legal reasoning by examining the topic through the context of legal knowledge (epistemology). What is it to have knowledge of legal reasoning?
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Chapter 2: What was the contribution of the Roman lawyers?

Geoffrey Samuel


The second chapter on what legal reasoning has been looks backwards from the medieval jurists to Roman law itself. The structural importance of the institutional scheme of persons (personae), things (res) and actions (actiones) is discussed as is the use of genus and species as the general basis of Roman law taxonomy. The chapter then goes on to examine in considerable depth the actual reasoning methods and techniques employed by the Roman jurists together with the philosophical and theory contexts in which this reasoning functioned. The relationship between these reasoning techniques and legal literature and texts is equally considered. The chapter aims to highlight several institutional and epistemological characteristics: for example the importance of the legal action (actio) as a starting point for reasoning at a case law level and the reluctance to see the source of law as existing in a set of abstract rules (regulae iuris).

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