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Scientia Iuris: An Unsolved Philosophical Problem

Aleksander Peczenik
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Vol. 3, No. 3 (Sep., 2000), pp. 273-302
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27504144
Page Count: 30
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Scientia Iuris: An Unsolved Philosophical Problem
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Abstract

Legal dogmatics in Continental European law (scientia iuris, Rechtswissenschaft) consists of professional legal writings whose task is to systematize and interpret valid law. Legal dogmatics pursues knowledge of the existing law, yet in many cases it leads to a change of the law. Among general theories of legal dogmatics, one may mention the theories of negligence, intent, adequate causation and ownership. The theories produce principles and they also produce defeasible rules. By means of production of general and defeasible theories, legal dogmatics aims at obtaining a system of law that is both internally coherent and harmonized with its background in morality and (political) philosophy. Legal dogmatics is necessary in the context of constitutional constraints on the majority rule. Only if the courts act on the basis of Reason can they be a legitimate counterpart of the majority rule. And Reason cannot be exhausted by particular decision making. It also needs a more abstract deliberation, given by expert jurists. However, legal dogmatics has been a target of several kinds of criticism: empirical, morally-political, epistemological, logical, and ontological. The position taken in this article is to answer such criticism by mutually adjusting philosophy and the practices of the law.

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