Legal Theory and Empirical Research

Denis J. Galligan

in The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542475
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Legal Theory and Empirical Research


This article aims at linking empirical research to legal theories, in a way that could enhance the benefits of this synergy. Jurisprudence, until recently the usual term for theoretical approaches to law, is now often replaced by the term legal theory. Difference between legal theory and empirical research is reflected in their consideration of subject matters, aims, and methods of research. However, there also exist commonalities between the two, i.e. both aim at comprehending law and legal systems. While legal theory uses philosophical tools, its subject matter still remains a social phenomenon, for social ends. And since empirical research is a means to gather information about law, it could act as a prime source of information for legal theory. While empirical research has its own end to follow, what is missing is, attention to some legal theory, not just general legal theory, but which can also critique philosophical discourses to legality.

Keywords: legal theory; empirical research; legal systems; jurisprudence; methods of research; subject matter; law

Article.  13018 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Comparative Law

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