Philosophy of Law


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Philosophy of Law

 

the study of the most general problems of the theory and world view of jurisprudence and statecraft. Philosophy of law was long an integral part of philosophical systems. The Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle dealt with such problems as the relation of law and justice, law and statute, and law and force and the place of law in the hierarchy of social values. The philosophy of law also figured prominently in Enlightenment philosophy (in such doctrines as natural law) and in German classical philosophy (in such works as Hegel’s Philosophy of Law).

In bourgeois societies, the philosophy of law is basically a component of a broadly developed legal science, and the term is frequently used as a synonym for the general theory, or general doctrine, of law. However, since the late 19th century, the philosophy of law has more often been understood in a narrower sense, as an autonomous discipline that is distinct from the general theory and sociology of law and involves not the study of law as it is practiced but the ideal, spiritual principles that purportedly form the basis of law. The basic concept of this bourgeois philosophy of law is the “idea of law,” as interpreted by such neo-Kantians as R. Stammler, G. Radbruch, and B. A. Kistia-kovskii or by such neo-Hegelians as J. Binder and K. Lorenz.

Since the mid-20th century the dominant role in the bourgeois philosophy of law has been played by schools based on Husserl’s phenomenology, new realism, existentialism, and neo-Thomism. In addition to apologists for capitalist law and the capitalist legal order, there are schools of critical reformists, who consider necessary the “modernization” of capitalism by means of law.

With the appearance of Marxism, the philosophy of law was treated for the first time within a materialist framework. Marxism synthesizes the philosophical, sociological, and purely legal approaches to the study of law rather than contrasting them, as does bourgeois jurisprudence. Thus, the philosophy of law is one of the aspects of the general theoretical legal discipline, the theory of state and law. In legal literature, the term “philosophy of law” is also applied to the aggregate of theoretical legal problems whose solution requires a philosophical approach, in particular a methodological and epistemological approach.

REFERENCES

Filosofskie problemy gosudarstva i prava. Leningrad, 1970.
Kerimov, D. A. Filosofskie problemy prava. Moscow, 1972.
Peschka, V. Grundprobleme der modernen Rechtsphilosophie. [Budapest] 1974.
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