Law Research Seminar: Legal Doctrinal Scholarship and the Social Sciences

Law Research Seminar: Legal Doctrinal Scholarship and the Social Sciences

This is a past event

Sorting out the exact relationship between legal scholarship and the social sciences has been a challenge ever since the establishment of sociology as a new type of academic discipline in the 19th century. It has raised questions about the very viability of the academic practices of legal scholars. The formulation of sociological theories of law, the emergence of sociology of law and legal anthropology, and then the lasting impact of different varieties of socio-legal studies brought that challenge into ever sharper relief. As legal practices undeniably constitute social phenomena, it has seemed obvious to many that legal scholarship has no legitimate claim to (even relative) methodological autonomy with respect to the social sciences. If done with appropriate academic rigour, what legal scholars do is a form of social science - perhaps applied social science. In my own theory of doctrinal scholarship (Legal Doctrinal Scholarship: Legal Theory and the Inner Workings of a Doctrinal Discipline, 2021), I argue against this conflation of two markedly different modes of disciplinarity. The presentation will articulate the deeper epistemological grounds for my position. In particular, I explore the different ways in which normative assumptions feature in academic work. Hopefully, that will enable me to draw a methodologically significant distinction between the ‘explanatory mandates’ of the social sciences on the one hand, and of doctrinal scholarship on the other.

Matyas Bodig is Professor at the School of Law of the University of Aberdeen

Matyas Bodig
Hosted by
School of Law
Hybrid Event (On Campus Venue - C11)