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Jurisprudence, historical

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-T017-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 15, 2021, from

Article Summary

Historical jurisprudence is the title usually given to a group of theories, which flourished mainly in the nineteenth century, that explain law as the product of predetermined patterns of change based on social and economic change. It is thus opposed both to theories that see law as essentially an expression of the will of those holding political power (positivist theories) and to those that see it as an expression of principles that are part of man’s nature and so applicable in any kind of society (natural law theories). The writers of the Scottish Enlightenment first connected the historical development of law with economic changes. In the nineteenth century, Savigny and Maine postulated grand evolutionary schemes, which purported to be applicable universally. They were, however, based on the development of ancient Roman law and could only with difficulty be applied to other systems. These schemes are now discredited, but in the twentieth century more modest studies have successfully related particular kinds of law to particular sets of social circumstances.

Citing this article:
Stein, Peter. Jurisprudence, historical, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-T017-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

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