Legal Theory and Legal History

afdeling Rechtstheorie en Rechtsgeschiedenis 2015

The science of law goes beyond studying the current law in force. For a complete academic appreciation of law, studying the historical roots and philosophical foundations of law is indispensable. The Department of Legal Theory and Legal History contributes to the philosophical and historical aspects of legal education and research. Generally speaking, the department is interested in three kind of questions.

The first question concerns the nature of legal knowledge. What makes the study of law scientific, what methods does it use? How can we cross bridges between legal science and other disciplines, such as political theory, sociology and ethics?

The second question relates to the foundation of law. Every lawyer is convinced that in a democratic society law should serve various fundamental values, for instance justice, legal certainty, freedom and equality. But how should these values be applied in practice ? What happens if these basic values conflict with each other? What is the role of law in politics and ethics?

The third question concerns the historical development of the law. How has law changed over the centuries? What past legal influences can be ascribed to our current idea of law today?

The answers to these fundamental questions are also relevant to legal practice when lawyers are looking for the best interpretation of the law.