The Epistemological Profile of Legal Doctrinal Scholarship—A Reply to Geoffrey Samuel


  • Mátyás Bódig



This piece is a response to Geoffrey Samuel’s review article that deals with my 2021 monograph, Legal Doctrinal Scholarship. I aim to correct misrepresentations of my position, but I also seek possibilities of a more constructive engagement between Samuel’s diachronic analysis of the development of legal thought and my synchronic account of the character of legal scholarship. The first substantive section aims to set the record straight by explaining my account of legal doctrinal scholarship (as a normative and hermeneutic discipline) against the background of my thoroughly interpretive methodology. Then, I move on to addressing some of Samuel’s specific objections to my account—related to the idea of the rational reconstruction of the law, the scope of interdisciplinary engagement in academic research into law, and the ideological profile of legal doctrinal scholarship. Finally, I address why Samuel’s own account does not fit into the parameters of my own theoretical project. My methodology leaves room for a range of different approaches to legal scholarship—including Samuel’s historical jurisprudence. However, Samuel’s approach lacks the argumentative force he would need to exclude the possibility of providing legal doctrinal scholarship with a plausible epistemological justification within the methodological parameters of my account. I argue that, ultimately, our debate is about the implications of methodological pluralism: the conditions under which theoretical accounts with very different methodological assumptions may have a correcting influence on one another.

Keywords: Samuel (Geoffrey); interpretivism; science; scholarship; normativity; rational reconstruction; interdisciplinary engagement; ideology; methodological pluralism.


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