The Elgar Companion to Law and Economics
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The Elgar Companion to Law and Economics

Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus

This authoritative and comprehensive reference work introduces the reader to the major concepts and leading contributors in the field of law and economics. The Companion features accessible, informative and provocative entries on all the significant areas and breaks new ground by bringing together widely dispersed but theoretically congruent ideas for the first time.
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Chapter 19: Different sources of the law

Peter R. Senn


Peter R. Senn So ubiquitous is science as a source of the law that few general statements are possible. Time, place and circumstance determine the role of science in the development of law. For example, the ancient Greeks did much to give meaning to modern ideas of both science and law. A good case can be made that they used their conceptions of science in the development of their laws. Despite this, it would be hard to support the claim that what they meant by both terms, law and science, then are broadly applicable to many of the issues of today. Understanding the role that science plays as a source of law must depend on the meanings given to both ‘law’ and ‘science’. Both terms are used in so many different senses that their denotation must always be specified. As used here, the term ‘source’ refers to the knowledge which science provides as the basis for changing or developing law. There is little agreement among scholars about precise definitions of ‘law’.’ Extreme caution in the use of the term ‘law’ is also required because in every language it has many connotations. Scholars from different disciplines use it to mean very different things. Legal scholars, for example, use the word to mean quite different things than philosophers or scientists intend when they use the same word. There are also many kinds of law. Among these are public, civil, natural, canon, divine, criminal, international and commercial law. Science has different influences on...

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