The pragmatist school in analytic jurisprudence

Philosophical Issues 31 (1):66-84 (2021)
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Almost twenty years ago, a genuinely new school of thought emerged in the field of jurisprudential methodology. It is a pragmatist school. Roughly, the pragmatists contend that, when inquiring about the nature of law, we should evaluate potential answers based on practical criteria. For many legal philosophers, this contention seems both unclear and unhinged. That appearance is lamentable. The pragmatist approach to jurisprudential methodology has received insufficient attention for at least two reasons. First, the pragmatists do not conceive of themselves as comprising a school; in fact, these proponents have different names for their common position, which makes it hard to see the commonalities. Second, the most famous statement of the pragmatist view has received withering criticism, criticism that has not been sufficiently answered, a fact that may lead opponents of pragmatism, as well as potential supporters, to doubt that a viable view of this kind can be held. This Essay aims to serve as a corrective.

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Raff Donelson
Illinois Institute of Technology

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