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(jo͝or'ĭspro͞od`əns), study of the nature and the origin and development of lawlaw,
rules of conduct of any organized society, however simple or small, that are enforced by threat of punishment if they are violated. Modern law has a wide sweep and regulates many branches of conduct.
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. It is variously regarded as a branch of ethics or of sociology. Many of the major systematic philosophers (e.g., Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Kant) have expounded jurisprudential theories. Before the 19th cent. most jurisprudents adhered to natural lawnatural law,
theory that some laws are basic and fundamental to human nature and are discoverable by human reason without reference to specific legislative enactments or judicial decisions.
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, which maintained that sound legal doctrine was derivable only from a supposed law of nature established by divine ordinance. The natural-law school did not deny that the details of legal regulation depended upon the will of the sovereign. However, the positivist, or analytical, school, which first became important in the late 18th cent., insisted that law was entirely a matter of sovereign decree, distinct from morality and theology. Among important 19th-century trends was the view, represented by SavignySavigny, Friedrich Karl von
, 1779–1861, German jurist and legal historian, a founder of the historical school of jurisprudence. He taught (1810–42) Roman law at the Univ. of Berlin, of which he was the first rector.
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, that a people's legal system expressed the national spirit. In the mid-19th cent. many jurisprudents attempted to avoid what they felt were theoretical preconceptions and to demonstrate a uniform evolution from primitive times to modern industrialized society. Other thinkers were skeptical of evolutionary explanations and sought the basic principles underlying all systems of law in various fields, including economics and psychology. Among the more important legal thinkers in the United States have been Learned HandHand, Learned
, 1872–1961, American jurist, b. Albany, N.Y. He received his law degree from Harvard in 1896. He was a judge of the U.S. District Court for New York's Southern District (1909–24) and of the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals (1924–51).
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, Oliver Wendell HolmesHolmes, Oliver Wendell,
1841–1935, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1902–32), b. Boston; son of the writer Oliver Wendell Holmes.
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, and Roscoe PoundPound, Roscoe,
1870–1964, American jurist, b. Lincoln, Nebr. He studied (1889–90) at Harvard law school, but never received a law degree. Pound was a prominent botanist as well as a jurist, and spent his early years in Nebraska practicing and teaching law,
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See J. Hall, ed., Readings in Jurisprudence (1938); W. S. Carpenter, Foundations of Modern Jurisprudence (1958); D. Lloyd, Introduction to Jurisprudence (3d ed. 1972).


legal and sociological theories which seek to situate the body of laws and legal institutions in an overall social context. Thus, jurisprudence to some extent overlaps with the SOCIOLOGY OF LAW.

Historically, it is possible to identify the following subdivisions of jurisprudence:

  1. legal positivism, e.g. Kelsen's conception of law as an objectively statable, hierarchical system of norms, or Hart's view of law as resting on ‘basic norms’. This view of law has been seen as ‘in tune’ with traditional legal professionalism, and viewed by its practitioners as involving theories requiring little input from social science. Jeremy BENTHAM's application of utilitarianism to legal reform can also be seen as a form of legal positivism;
  2. natural law theories (see NATURAL RIGHTS AND NATURAL LAW), theories which were a main target of the legal positivists;
  3. historical and evolutionary theories, e.g. MAINE's theories, and Savigny's account of laws as reflecting the custom or Volkgeist of a nation or people;
  4. conflict theories, theories which emphasize the conflicts of interest underlying the formation and social control functions of legal systems, e.g. Roscoe Pound's ‘pluralism’;
  5. legal realism, US approaches influenced by PRAGMATISM, which emphasized the social basis, and fluid, ‘living character’ of law.

All of the above approaches have exerted an influence on the sociology of law, but a recent resurgence of sociolegal studies has owed much to a new vein of empirical sociological studies of legal systems and he operation of the law.


1. the science or philosophy of law
2. a system or body of law
3. a branch of law
References in periodicals archive ?
The Board's workshop "Protecting Your Patients and Your Practice" and the online continuing nursing education (CNE) course "Nursing Regulations for Safe Practice"awards contact hours that will satisfy the new requirements for Nursing Jurisprudence and Ethics.
Answer: All nurses are required to complete at least two contact hours in nursing jurisprudence and ethics prior to the end of every third licensure renewal cycle.
00 per day Time: 2:00 pm-5:00 pm WEBINARS--2014 July 24 10:00 am-11:00 am "APRN Application Process" (Free--does not award CNE) August 6 9:30 am-10:30 am "Nursing Peer Review: Understanding the Process" * August 21 1:00 pm-2:30 pm "APRN Scope of Practice" * October 30 9:30 am-10:30 am "Safe Harbor: Ensuring Patient Safety" * December 3 Part I 1:00 pm-2:30 pm and "Delegation Process in the Community Setting" * December 10 Part II 1:00 pm-2:30 pm "Delegation Process in the Community Setting" * December 18 10:00 am-11:00 am "LVN Scope of Practice" (Free--does not award CNE) * Contact hours awarded ** Contact hours awarded and meets the 2 contact hour CNE requirement for Nursing Jurisprudence and Ethics as required by the 2013 Texas Legislature.
For example, in relation to the nursing jurisprudence and ethics requirement, if your license expires in May 2014, you do not have to complete a nursing jurisprudence and ethics course between now and May 31, 2014.
Senate Bill (SB) 1058 by Jane Nelson adds new continuing education requirements related to nursing jurisprudence and ethics, as well as continuing education related to older adults or geriatric populations for nurses working in a practice area related to geriatric populations.
The gentleman commented that when he first learned that he was required to take the Nursing Jurisprudence test he was "irritated" by yet another "hoop to jump through" to obtain a Texas nursing license.
She submitted a certificate from the the BONENT which turned out to be fraudulent and she also presented paperwork from the Board of Nursing, including a Pearson Vue Authorization to Test and a Certificate of Completion of the Nursing Jurisprudence exam.

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