Idealism, Empiricism, Pluralism, Law: Legal truth after modernity

Mason, Luke (2019) Idealism, Empiricism, Pluralism, Law: Legal truth after modernity. In: Post-Truth, Law and Philosophy. Routledge, London. ISBN 9781138324664

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Making a connection between ‘post-modernism’ and post-truth has by now become a standard trope, both within academia and popular discourse, despite post-truth’s only recent emergence as a concept. Such claims are often rather vague and fanciful and lack an altogether credible account of either phenomenon in many cases. This Chapter argues however that within a legal context, there is the emergence of a legalpost-truth which is the direct consequence of a concrete form of post-modernity within legal practice and thought.While law may be called upon to engage in judgments of ‘truth’ in numerous interesting ways, it does not itself have any particular form of privileged access to the truth of statements or allegations, even though it is often treated as doing so. However, the most persistent question which law must deal with, and indeed the most persistent question within legal philosophy, relates to a deeper form ofinquiry into truth: the question of legal truth. In simple terms this refers to the correctness of any particular proposition of law. Within legal theory, this expands to the larger question of what makes, in general, any legal proposition valid, or true.Reflecting upon legal scholarship through the lens of truth reveals that theories of law can be broken down into two broad and radically distinct categories. On the one hand, there exist empirical accounts of law which fundamentally understand questions of legal truth associal questions whose answers areempirically demonstrable. On the other hand, there are ‘idealist’ accounts of law which view legal content, and hence truth, as existing in some way or other in a manner which transcends social practice and which is autonomous from it. Both of these classical accounts, while radically different, share an interesting paradox: they see truth in law as an objective fact, but one which is fleeting and distant, far from the paradigm of legal certainty upon which the ideology of law is partly based.

Item Type: Book Section
20 October 2018Accepted
28 May 2019Published
Subjects: CAH16 - law > CAH16-01 - law > CAH16-01-01 - law
CAH20 - historical, philosophical and religious studies > CAH20-02 - philosophy and religious studies > CAH20-02-01 - philosophy
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Luke Mason
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2019 10:00
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:54

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