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Jurisprudence (from Latin : juris prudentia -- by theactivity of prudentes; advisors, experts), is the philosophy , science , study, and application of law .


Jurisprudence already had this meaning in ancient Rome , even if at its originsthe discipline was a monopoly of the college of the Pontiffs (Pontifex),which detained an exclusive power of judgement on facts, being the only experts (periti) in the jus of traditional law (mores maiorum, a body of oral laws and customs verbally transmitted "by father to son"). Pontiffs indirectly created a body of laws by their pronunciations( sententiae ) on single concrete (judicial) cases.

Their sentences were supposed to be simple interpretations of the traditional customs, but effectively it was an activitythat, apart from formally reconsidering for each case what precisely was traditionally in the legal habits, soon turned also to amore equitative interpretation, coherently adapting the law to the newer social instances. The law was then implemented with newevolutive Institutiones (legal concepts), while remaining in the traditional scheme. Pontiffs were replaced in 3rdcentury BC by a laical body of prudentes. Admission to this body was conditional upon proof of competence orexperience.

Under the Roman Republic , schools of law were created, and theactivity constantly became more academic. In the age from the early RomanEmpire to the 3rd century, a relevant literature was produced by some notable groups including the Proculians and Sabinians . The degree of scientific depth ofthe studies was unprecedented in ancient times and reached still unrivalled peaks of skill. It is about this activity that it hasbeen said that Romans had developed an art out of the law.

After 3rd century, Juris prudentia became a more bureaucratic activity, with few notable authors. It was during the Byzantine Empire (5th century) that legal studies were once againundertaken in depth, and it is from this cultural movement that Justinian 's Corpus Juris Civilis was born.

Modern use

In modern studies jurisprudence is both the branch of humanist sciences that studies the law and the complexof legal principles that can be desumed by the sentences. Sentences are in this sense authoritative interpretations of the formallaw that, starting from a concrete judicial case, usually contain general reflections on the sense and the scopes of the law, andon its potential extent.

Jurisprudence refers either of two things. First, in common law jurisdictions, it means simply " case law ", i.e. the law that is established throughthe decisions of the courts and other officials. Second, it means the philosophy of law , or legal theory , which studiesnot what the law is in a particular jurisdiction (say, Turkey or the United States) but law in general--i.e. those attributescommon to all legal systems.

Jurisprudence in the second sense is conventionally divided into two parts: descriptive, or analytic, jurisprudence, and normativejurisprudence . Analytic jurisprudence studies what law 'is'; normative jurisprudence studies what law 'ought tobe'.

Among the most important questions of analytic jurisprudence are these: What is a law ? What is a legal system ? What is the relationship between law and power ? What is the relationship between lawand justice or morality ? Does everysociety have a legal system? How should we understand concepts like legal rights and legal obligations orduties ? The most influential works of analytic jurisprudence include: Jeremy Bentham , Of Laws in General ; Hans Kelsen , The Pure Theory of Law ; H.L.A. Hart , The Concept ofLaw ; and Ronald Dworkin , Law's Empire .

Among the most important questions of normative jurisprudence are these: What is the proper function of law ? What sorts of acts should be subject to punishment , and what sorts of punishment should be permitted? What is justice ? What rights do we have? Is therea duty to obey the law? What value has the rule of law ? The most influentialworks of normative jurisprudence include all the classics of political philosophy . Among contemporary writers, the following have beenparticularly influential: John Rawls , A Theory of Justice ; H.L.A. Hart , Punishment and Responsibility ; JoelFeinberg , The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law ; Joseph Raz , The Morality ofFreedom ; Ronald Dworkin , A Matter ofPrinciple .

See also

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