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10 Issues Legal Scholarship 1 (2012)

handle is hein.journals/iulesch10 and id is 1 raw text is: 

DOI 1O.1515/ils-2012-0002 -  Issues in Legal Scholarship 2012; 10(1): 1-4

Jonathan   S. Simon*

Introduction: Law as a Humanist Science

*Corresponding author: Jonathan Simon, Adrian A. <ragen Professor of Law, University of
California, Berkeley, CA, USA, e-mail: jsimon@law.berkeley.edu

A Humanist Science' was the title of the final book of Selznick's long and intellec-
tually productive life, but in many respects it could describe his earliest aspiration
for both law and sociology; two academic fields which Selznick helped transform
and bring together. Selznick, who died in 2010, helped remake the sociology of
organizations in the 1940s and 1950s with his work on the informal processes at
work in formal organizations. In the 1960s and 1970s, he turned to the sociology
of law where he produced a highly influential study of the new forms of legality
being produced  by labor law2 and major articles on the contemporary relevance
of natural law and the anti-positivist tradition more generally in law.3 Selznick
also founded two innovative academic institutions that have promoted the inter-
disciplinary turn in law both at Berkeley and nationally: the Center for the Study
of Law & Society (1961), and the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program (1978).
    While Selznick's work is often divided in phases, the strand that runs through
almost all of Selznick's work was his interest in the intangible features of
social life; whether the informal processes that operate in and around bureau-
cratic organizations, or the sense of justice that motivates litigants to assume the
burdens of taking a case to a court. Unlike either legal or social science positiv-
ists, Selznick was eager to treat morals or values as social facts relevant to the
resolution of legal disputes and the evaluation of social institutions. Unlike the
usual opponents  of both positivisms, Selznick believed profoundly and broadly
in empirical inquiry as essential to both law and social science.
    In insisting at the end that we seize both sides of this seemingly contradictory
humanist  science aspiration, Selznick was doubling down  then on a theme
that he had invested in consistently as a scholar, first in sociology, than in law. A
firm believer that the self-understandings produced by active participants in long
term social and legal struggles (like those of workers for employment rights or
minorities for civil rights to name two that had particular salience for Selznick's

I Philip Selznick, A Humanist Science: Values and Ideals in Social Inquiry (2008).
2 Philip Selznick, Law, Society and Industrial Justice (with Philippe Nonet and Howard Volmer)
3 Philip Selznick, Sociology and Natural Law, 6 Natural Law Forum 84 (1961).


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