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Title: Conceptual investigation and the ontology of law
Author: Adams, Thomas Carter
ISNI:       0000 0004 5920 3996
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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An important question for general jurisprudence concerns method: what is the right way to form a philosophical understanding of law? Exploration of this question has, in one form or another, featured as a constant part of the work of those within the discipline, and many different answers have been given. The aim of this thesis is to argue that a controversial conception of philosophical method – as an investigation into our rule-bound conceptual practices and uses of language – is the appropriate means of understanding the nature of law. The first three chapters establish the initial connection between conceptual or linguistic analysis and the ability to gain insight into the social reality of law. I argue, in chapter one, that institutional concepts have a linguistic basis and, in chapters two and three, that legal systems are borne out of the shared use of certain basic concepts on the part of those who make up their law applying institutions, i.e. the courts. To understand the rules according to which such concepts are deployed, I suggest, is to understand the essential structure of legal practice. An assumption of that argument is tested in chapter four by considering Ronald Dworkin’s famous claim that certain forms of disagreement between lawyers and judges are incompatible with a picture of law dependent upon their agreement in the use of basic legal concepts. Chapter five takes up the question of whether the account of social ontology contained in the thesis is compatible with the fact of philosophical disagreement about the nature of law. Finally, chapters six and seven discuss alternate models of theoretical success in general jurisprudence, the first inspired by externalist views of linguistic and mental contents, and the second dependent upon a naturalistic conception of philosophy.
Supervisor: Green, Leslie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Legal philosophy ; Philosophy of law ; Modern Western philosophy ; law ; jurisprudence