Introduction Legalism, Anthropology, and History: a View from Part of Anthropology

Paul Dresch

in Legalism

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199664269
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744686 | DOI:
Introduction Legalism, Anthropology, and History: a View from Part of Anthropology

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‘Legalism’ is used in this volume as a non-pretentious term for themes that recur both in societies that conceptualize law discretely and in others that decline to do so. These themes include an appeal to rules that are distinct from practice, the explicit use of generalizing concepts, and a disposition to address in such terms the conduct of human life. They do not always coincide with what Joseph Raz called a ‘legal system’; far less do they account for everything one might call ‘law’. This chapter does not impose a model, therefore, but tries by stages to isolate a topic from existing literature. If law suggests transcendent values in terms of which conduct is judged, legalism spells out the terms employed, and it directs us towards classification more than towards power. The discussions cover law and dispute settlement; empiricism, society, and legalism; complex systems; one-off laws within a ‘legal community’ that is centred on something like a state; and law and conceptual order.

Keywords: law; legal system; dispute settlement; empiricism; society; legal community

Chapter.  20245 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law ; History of Law

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