Theorizing Areas of Law: A Taxonomy of Special Jurisprudence

Legal Theory 28 (4):325-351 (2022)
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Abstract

This paper provides a taxonomy of the different kinds of theory that may be offered of an area of law. We distinguish two basic types of philosophical accounts in special jurisprudence: nonnormative accounts and normative accounts. Section II explains the two central subspecies of nonnormative accounts of areas of law: (i) conceptual and ontological theories and (ii) reason-tracking causal theories. Section III explores normative theories of areas of law. Normative accounts subdivide into detached and committed normative accounts. Detached or committed normative accounts can be subdivided further into the following cross-cutting categories: (i) pro tanto or all-things-considered, (ii) hyper-reformist or practice-dependent, (iii) taxonomical or substantive. Section IV shows that our taxonomy does not presume a prior commitment to any particular school in general jurisprudence. This paper clarifies methodological confusion that exists in theorizing about areas of law, and contributes to the subfield of thinking generally about special jurisprudence.

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Tarun Khaitan
University of Melbourne

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