18 Ratio Juris 1 (2005)

handle is hein.journals/raju18 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Ratio Juris. Vol. 18 No. 1 March 2005 (1-15)

The Philosophy of Scandinavian

Legal Realism


Abstract. The jurisprudential movement known as Scandinavian Legal Realism was
founded by the Swedish philosopher Axel Hagerstr6m and the Danish philosopher
and jurist Alf Ross in order to destroy the distorting influence of metaphysics upon
legal thinking and to provide the secure philosophical foundation for scientific
knowledge of the law. I shall present Hagerstr6m's philosophical theory and argue
that he is committed to the metaphysical view that the world in time and space con-
sists of causal regularities between things and events devoid of any values that is
related to his epistemological view that what there is can be known by experience.
Higerstr6m's philosophy advances a naturalistic approach that conceives the posi-
tive law as a system of rules in terms of behavioural regularities among human
beings and legal knowledge as an empirical inquiry into the causal relations between
legal rules and human behaviour. This approach is followed by his pupils, the
Swedish lawyers A. V. Lundstedt and Karl Olivecrona, whereas Ross appeals to
logical positivism. The naturalistic approach should be taken seriously since it leaves
no room for the normativity of the law and for legal knowledge in terms of reasons
for belief and action.

1. Introduction

The jurisprudential movement   known  as Scandinavian  Legal Realism  was
founded  by  the Swedish  philosopher Axel  Hagerstrom  (1868-1939), who
held the chair of practical philosophy at the University of Uppsala from 1911
to his retirement in 1933, and the Danish philosopher  and jurist Alf Ross
(1899-1979), who  held chairs in law at the University of Copenhagen from
1933 until his retirement in 1970. They shared the view  that it is vital to
destroy the distorting influences of metaphysics upon scientific thinking in
general and  legal thinking in particular in order to pave the way for the
scientific understanding of the importance of law and legal science for the
life of human beings  within a state. Hagerstrom's philosophy informs  his
jurisprudential approach in terms of a naturalistic approach to law and legal
knowledge   that is further pursued by his pupils, the Swedish legal scholars

@ Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden 02148, USA.

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