Interdisciplinary Reflections on Legal Method
Edited by Sanne Taekema, Bart van Klink and Wouter de Been
Chapter 11: How should lawyers use sociological ideas? Juristic practice and social science
Can sociological inquiries play an important role in addressing juristic issues? Are they debarred from doing so by a necessary separation of ‘is’ and ‘ought’ – by the divide between a sociological concern to understand social facts and a juristic concern to interpret and develop legal norms? This chapter argues that the fact–norm divide may not be an absolute bar. Much depends on the ways in which the role of the jurist and the scope of legal sociology are understood. While sociological inquiries cannot solve normative problems of law, they can reveal and explain much, not only about the contexts in which juristic problems are addressed, but also why these problems take the form they do, why certain kinds of juristic arguments may tend to prevail over others, and what the parameters of meaningful juristic debate are likely to be in specific contexts.
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