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Philosophy of law: Concept


The philosophy of law analyzes the fundamental questions of law. It deals with his nature and his conceptions of justice. It is interested in the genesis of norms and rights, as well as the foundations of their validity. The philosophy of law questions the techniques of interpreting the law, raising for example the question of respect for the letter or the spirit of the law. The philosophy of law is thus at the confluence of political philosophy and ethics.

The philosophy of law is not to be confused with the interpretation of legal norms, nor with the study of case law. The philosophers judge the law from a point of view which wants to be founding (or re-founding) for the law itself. The philosophy of law is therefore not a branch of law, but of philosophy. In his Doctrine of Right, Immanuel Kant writes that the law is in itself, independently of philosophy, only a beautiful head, but without a brain.


Because the philosophy of law allows the jurist to reflect on norms and values, this discipline can influence reversals of case law or the voting of new laws. The public laws have been particularly influenced by the philosophy of law. In the 19th century, some professors, such as Alfred Fouille, argued that the intellectual ferment allowed by the philosophy of law was responsible for events such as the French Revolution.

In his 1844 law course at the University of the Sorbonne, Jules Cauvet wrote that “the efforts of the philosophy of law to ascertain the primitive bases of legislations presented another result even more important: they will serve to combat this doctrine so fatal to our fathers, [according to which] the law can consecrate plunder and injustice when it appears necessary for the salvation of the State”.

(Includes texts from Wikipedia translated and adapted by Nicolae Sfetcu)

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