The fragmentation of legal theory as an epistemic community: structures, patterns, trendS
CONVENOR: Peter Cserne
• Prestige of various universities and neglect of others?
• Gender, race and other identity criteria?
• Master/disciple relationships?
• Geographical and language issues?
• Law being local/particular?
• Different schools and styles of philosophising?
• Old divisions of naturalism/positivism?
• Political ideologies such as mainstream (conservative or progressive) vs critical (radical)?
In other words, are the nodes in the network clustered around: universities, journals, charismatic figures, shared methodological assumptions, political ideology, language, or some other factors? And how has this changed over time, say in the last 20 or 50 years?
Those who consider themselves members of this community of legal theorists all have intuitions and anecdotes about these issues. Yet the topic also raises legitimate research questions: to assess them systematically requires both conceptual and empirical work as well as interdisciplinary collaboration.
Indeed, some related research has been done, e.g. in Germany (Schulze-Fielitz 2013, 2022, Hamann 2021), the United Kingdom (Cownie 2004, Siems 2021) and the United States (Hayashi 2021).
The number of possible dimensions is huge, and in exploring the various dividing lines in the epistemic community of legal philosophers we need to be selective.
It is suggested that after the special workshop, interested participants may work on a collaborative research project to explore these questions about the culture and organisation of legal theory as an epistemic community, both analytically and empirically, through conceptual work as well as qualitative and quantitative methods. This may include drafting and submitting joint applications for external funding. Therefore the workshop will include some time for brainstorming on how we should design such a research project.
The insights that such research is expected to produce may go beyond the descriptive sociology of a profession: it may prove to be provocative. It may also ferment developments towards more inclusivity in legal theory, something that is difficult to achieve directly or even through a book on “southern voices” (Twining 2009), “a small first step towards de‐parochializing Western Jurisprudence” (Twining and Sugarman 2020: 219).
Paper proposals (about 500 words with a short paragraph on affiliation and/or professional background) on any aspect of the topic are welcome and should be sent to the organiser by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by 30 April 2022, with “IVR SW” in the subject line.