Law and Interdisciplinarity: On the Inevitable Normativity of Legal Studies

Jan M. Smits


The field of legal studies is undergoing rapid changes of a highly diverse nature. Increasing specialization, globalization, the rise of interdisciplinary legal studies, and a growing separation of legal research and teaching prompt the question: What is the aim and method of legal studies? The approach advocated in this article provides a contextual model of legal scholarship. Its most important feature is that the basis for autonomous legal studies lies in the fact that it offers a method of analysis. Legal studies look at the world through the lens of what people ought to do in law. This puts “Law and …” approaches in context: it is impossible to carry out meaningful interdisciplinary work in the law without giving center stage to the question of what the law ought to be. This article explores the consequences of this “inevitable normativity” of legal studies for future academic research and teaching.

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