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Academia and Law

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Academia and Law

Postby Russell » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:56 pm

How does Law differ from other subjects? Normally subjects create new knowledge of their own accord. Make up a question, research it get it published in a Journal. But Law's are made in Court and by Governments. Seems very different from my lay point of view, or is it?
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby dls » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:44 am

There are real differences, but legal academics can sometimes move across into the judiciary - and back again. Academic content is often referred to in judgments, and definitely feeds into law reform processes. It clearly does not have the simple oomph of a high court decision, but it has real value.
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby Russell » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:52 am

Okay interesting, thank you. So how would a Law Journal differ from a Peer Reviewed Journal or would these still be the same?
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby atticus » Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:04 am

They are of similar standing.
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby dls » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:55 am

They are not all of the same standing. Some (ahem) have accepted articles by me.
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby atticus » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:05 am

Not all non-law academic journals are of the same standing as Nature or the Modern Law Review.

Some articles in legal journals are hugely influential. When I did my Masters degree project on Rylands v Fletcher it became apparent the the House of Lords, in the 2003 Transco case, was closely following the thesis of Professor Newark in an article entitled "The Boundaries of Nuisance" published in the 1940s. It was 50 or 60 years after the publication of that article that a Rylands case came to the House of Lords, but that is where the reverberations of Prof. Newark's writing ended up.
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby theycantdothat » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:19 pm

Russell wrote:Normally subjects create new knowledge of their own accord. [...] But Law's are made in Court and by Governments. Seems very different from my lay point of view, or is it?


This exact point was made by your great uncle Bertrand in the chapter on Aristotle's logic in History of Western Philosophy. The study of law creates no new knowledge since it derives it principles from authoritative texts.

You can state what the law is or, if it is not known in a particular case, speculate what it might be. However, no amount of academic speculation can make law, though it may, as atticus says, be influential. What Professor Newark effectively did was to anticipate a problem and consider it. His reasoning was accepted by the HoL.
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby dls » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:04 pm

The study of law creates no new knowledge since it derives it principles from authoritative texts.


Which is of course strictly true, but it is unwise to underestimate the ability of a creative judge to find new interpretations of existing law.
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby atticus » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:50 pm

Does the study of history, or of Greek tragedies, or of the media create new knowledge?
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Re: Academia and Law

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:19 pm

Yes.

Suppose I cross-reference the records of the Old Bailey with per capita GDP for the period, to test my hypothesis that incidents of domestic violence rise during times of low economic growth. Assuming for one moment that nobody has undertaken this analysis before, I will have created the knowledge of whether this is true.

The same might be true, for example, if I were to find out whether people are more receptive to advertising during hot weather, which might be useful to advertisers.
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