3 Ratio Juris 1 (1990)

handle is hein.journals/raju3 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Ratio Juris. Vol. 3 No. 1 March 1990 (1-13)
copyright  Robert Alexy and Ralf Dreier 1990

The Concept of Jurisprudence*


Abstract. The first part of this article contains (i) considerations as to the relationship
between jurisprudence and legal dogmatics, legal philosophy, and sociology of law;
(ii) considerations about the status of jurisprudence both as a meta- and an object-theory.
These lead to the suggestion that jurisprudence should be defined as a general juristic
theory of law and legal science. In the second part, the character and elements of this
definition are explained systematically. The article's main thesis is that jurisprudence
is not distinguished from legal philosophy and sociology of law by its subject or its
method, but by the specifically juristic research aspect or perspective it is based upon.

I. Stating the Problem
The concept of jurisprudence1 is contested. The main problems of delimitation
lie in the relation of jurisprudence to legal dogmatics on the one hand and to
legal philosophy and sociology of law on the other. These are augmented by
problems of the relationship between the theory of law and the theory of legal

1. Jurisprudence and Legal Dogmatics
Legal dogmatics can be defined as the juristic theory of a single legal system's
positive law. In all developed legal systems it is divided into specialist dogmatics,
e.g., the dogmatics of civil law, criminal law, administrative law, constitutional
law, etc. These sections again show various subdivisions. From this fact emerges
the need for a general juristic theory of positive law, which is also called general
theory of law (Allgemeine Rechtslehre). This need is the most important

* The authors' warm thanks are due to: Miss Susanne Gaschke for help with the translation of
the original German text and to: Prof. Neil MacCormick and Mr. Zenon Bankowski for advice
on the final English version.
1 Instead of the term jurisprudence the term legal theory might be used throughout this paper.
For the present purposes the two terms are treated as synonyms.

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