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14 April 2015

ARTICLES: Legal Realism and Natural Law, Logic for Legal Historians, Buddhism and the Law (Law and Humanities Blog)

(image source: Law and Humanities Blog)

 The Law and Humanities blog signalled some interesting new scholarship:
  • Daniel Prey (York), "Legal Realism and Natural Law", in: Maksymilian Del Mar & Michael Lobban (ed.), Law, Theory and History: New Essays on a Neglected Topic (2015) (click here)
The possibility of any meaningful relationship between the legal realists and natural law looks at first rather far-fetched. When it first appeared on the jurisprudential scene, legal realism was savagely attacked by proponents of natural law theory. To this day legal realism is depicted as a modernist, critical, at times almost nihilist approach to law, the polar opposite of the ancient natural law theory that traces its roots to Greek and Roman philosophy, and insists on unchanging objective values. And yet, two of the most famous legal realists, Karl Llewellyn and Jerome Frank, expressed in some of their writings more than a passing endorsement of natural law theory. The purpose of this essay is to try and explain this seemingly odd aspect of their work and in this way help in reassessing their work. We do so by explaining how they understood natural law and how they incorporated it in their work. Though they did not understand the term in precisely the same way, for both of them natural law was connected to the values of the community, which both of them thought were central to understanding law, for explaining how it could remain relatively certain, and ultimately, how it derived its authority.
  •  Ilan Wurman (Winston & Strawn, LLP), "Law Historians' Fallacies", North Dakota Law Review (click here)
A common line of attack against originalists is that lawyers just aren’t good at doing history. But in his famous book Historians’ Fallacies, David Hackett Fischer noted that many historians aren’t good at doing history either: They often fall into one or more of numerous fallacies that he catalogued in his celebrated and often devastating three-hundred page book. This Article points out the many ways in which originalists and other legal historians fall into, but also how they may avoid, some of the same fallacies committed by the historians whose works made their way into Fischer’s book. It will then point to corresponding lessons that lawyers-turned-historians ought to employ to write better history. The belief is that lawyers, judges, and legal academics can become good — or at least better — historians.

Part I confronts two general attacks on the use of history, both of which challenge the possibility of obtaining relevant and objective historical knowledge. Part II establishes the importance of investigative questions and describes fallacies of question-framing that lead originalists astray. Part III explores fallacies of factual verification that stem from reliance on flawed types of evidence. Part IV addresses one fallacy of factual significance — which we shall call the originalist’s fallacy — that leads some originalists to misunderstand the significance of certain evidence. Part V illustrates fallacies of narration, including fallacies of anachronism and presentism, that too often create fruitless investigations and provide ahistorical answers. Part VI, although recognizing the importance of generalization, demonstrates how originalists (and other legal historians) often generalize improperly. 
  • Rebecca French (SUNY Buffalo), "What is Buddhist Law ?", SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Papers (click here)
This Law Review article, and ones that follow, are an introduction to Buddhist Law and its influence in Asia and the rest of the world. While the legal traditions of all major religious traditions have been extensively studied and written about, there are very few scholars of, and little written in any language on, the legal concepts in the Buddhist tradition. There is basically nothing in the legal academic literature in the U.S. nor are translations of the actual legal texts available for general use when working to understand this form of thinking, or in making comparisons to other religious laws. This series of articles will examine the reasons for this gap, outline the contextual setting, explore the actual rules that were established, note how they influenced social systems in Asia and address other general aspects of Buddhist Law.

This article will have two types of writing: (1) in regular script, the legal discussion and description common to a Law Review and (2) in italics, translations of actual Buddhist law code texts, particularly the Vinaya, or canonical law code. The second type of writing is presented to familiarize non-Asian lawyers with the style of the text and some of the concepts and ideas that underlie Buddhism and Buddhist Law. Besides the intrinsic interest of a wholly unknown legal system, this material is useful for comparative lawyers, international lawyers, scholars of public policy and anyone doing law in a former or current Buddhist country.

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