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Norberto Bobbio, "The Science of Law and the Analysis of Language", in Law and Language. The Italian Analytic School (click here for further details): This essay tackles the problem of the extent to which jurisprudence can be considered a science. It is an issue that comes up every time comparisons are drawn between research in legal theory and research in mathematics, physics or biology, disciplines which are traditionally considered "scientific" by common consent. This is not merely a matter of words, or of the professional dignity of those concerned. If we define science as research conducted with some rigour (in the sense that is explained in the essay), it is then a matter of ascertaining whether the results of legal theoretical enquiry have equal validity in their own sphere as those in physics, biology, etc. This is a debate that has been going on for a long time in the history of jurisprudence. It came to a head during the last century, at a time when scientific knowledge was progressing at a tremendous rate both in the old and new fields of inquiry.

To this day, of all the subsequent images of what is scientific, offered ever since a theory of science existed, jurists have not been able to find any with which to identify their role and their work. To summarise again: jurists have not been able, however regretfully and against their best judgement, to fit their inquiry into any of the conceptions of science and knowledge produced so far. After discussing several conceptions of science as applied to the study of law, the author concludes that descriptive jurisprudence could and should be considered a science insofar as it could and should be a rigorous language. This is already the case when jurists strive to describe the law by means of a consistent system of sentences which can be communicated effectively between subjects without great risk of misunderstandings, that is by means of sentences formulated in a rigorous language.

[Abstract by Mario Jori]

 

 



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