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    The seriousness of the incorporation problem in interdisciplinary legal research, this article argues, depends on how legal research is understood. If legal research is understood as a single, inherently interdisciplinary discipline, the problem largely falls away. On this view, the incorporation of other disciplines into legal research is what legal academics have for the last 40 years already successfully been doing. If, on the other hand, legal research is best conceived as a multi-disciplinary field, consisting of a core discipline – doctrinal research – and various other types of mono-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, the incorporation of other disciplines presents real difficulties. For legal academics engaged in socio-legal research, in particular, two problems arise: the practical problem of trying to address a legal professional and academic audience at the same time and the philosophical problem of trying to integrate the internal perspective of doctrinal research with the external perspective of other disciplines. In the final part of the article, these practical and philosophical difficulties are illustrated by reference to the author’s research on the politics of judicial review in new democracies.


Theunis Robert Roux
Theunis Robert Roux is Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Article

Access_open Introduction: The Incorporation Problem in Interdisciplinary Legal Research

Part 1: Theoretical Discussions

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2015
Authors Sanne Taekema and Wibren van der Burg
Author's information

Sanne Taekema
Sanne Taekema is Professor of Jurisprudence at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam.

Wibren van der Burg
Wibren van der Burg is Professor of Legal Philosophy and Jurisprudence at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam.

    This article sets out to contribute to the special issue devoted to multi-disciplinary legal research by discussing first the limits of purely doctrinal legal research in relation to a particular topic and second the relevant considerations in devising research that (inter alia) draws on non-legal, auxiliary disciplines to ‘fill in’ and guide the legal framework. The topic concerned is the (analysis of the) fundamental rights of minorities.
    The article starts with a long account of the flaws in the current legal analysis of the European Court of Human Rights regarding minorities’ rights, particularly the reduction in its analysis and the related failure to properly identify and weigh all relevant interests and variables. This ‘prelude’ provides crucial insights in the causes of the flaws in the Court’s jurisprudence: lack of knowledge (about the relevant interests and variables) and concerns with the Court’s political legitimacy.
    The article goes on to argue for the need for multi-disciplinary legal research to tackle the lack of knowledge: more particularly by drawing on sociology (and related social sciences) and political philosophy as auxiliary disciplines to identify additional interests and variables for the rights analysis. The ensuing new analytical framework for the analysis of minorities’ rights would benefit international courts (adjudicating on human rights) generally. To operationalise and refine the new analytical framework, the research should furthermore have regard to the practice of (a selection of) international courts and national case studies.


Kristin Henrard
Professor of minorities and fundamental rights at the Erasmus School of Law.

Siri Gloppen
Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen and Head of the Courts in Transition research programme at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen, Norway. The author would like to thank Ole Frithjof Norheim, Bruce M. Wilson and the anonymous referees for constructive comments.
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