28 Ratio Juris 1 (2015)

handle is hein.journals/raju28 and id is 1 raw text is: 



Ratio Juris. Vol. 28 No. 1 March 2015 (1-14)


The Politics of Jurisprudence Revisited:

A Swedish Realist in Historical Context


ROGER COTTERRELL*

Abstract. This article argues that juristic theories must be understood in relation to
the historical conditions in which they have emerged. This is not to reduce theories
to their context but to gain essential insight into their aims, meaning, and scope
with the aid of such external reference points. Here I use the ideas of the Swedish
legal realist Vilhelm Lundstedt to illustrate these claims, choosing his juristic
theory for this purpose specifically because it has been so widely seen (at least by
non-Scandinavian  interpreters) as deeply puzzling  and  extreme. The  article
argues that his central ideas are readily intelligible in historical context. But such
a contextual examination of juristic ideas also makes it possible to assess what in
them  can properly travel beyond immediate context: in other words, what insights
about the nature of the jurist's task can legitimately be taken from them for more
universal application. Lundstedt's work, despite having been largely ignored or
excluded  from international juristic debate, has something to offer here if seen
through a contextualising lens that sets the possibilities for its broader application
in sharp relief.


1. Introduction

Two  decades ago The Politics of Jurisprudence, a short introduction to juristic theories
of law, suggested that the progression of those theories might be understood in new
ways  by systematically presenting them in historical context. The book argued that
they should be considered, in part, as responses to political conditions and [... .]
conditions of legal professional practice in the time and place  in which  they
emerged  (Cotterrell 2003, vii). The book disavowed any aim to reduce ideas to their
socio-political context (that is, to use context to explain them away as having no
significance outside it) but it claimed that this contextual approach could give
essential insight into their aims, meaning, and scope; it could change understand-
ings of them, sometimes in fundamental ways. The book  was concerned  only with
the Anglo-American  context, however, so its cultural comparisons were limited; its
focus was on  changes in this context in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


* I am grateful to Mauro Zamboni for helpful comments, to Jorgen Dalberg-Larsen for
supplying some materials, and to Thomas Lakhall for translations from Swedish.

D 2015 The Author. Ratio Juris D 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main
Street, Malden 02148, USA.

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