chapter  11
14 Pages

The Law is a ass': an anthropological appraisal

Anyone having had the misfortune to seek recourse to justice through the legal system cannot be impervious to the fact that, while the court aspires to arrive at a rational decision, the sought-after justice may be a purely coincidental consequence. The subject of this paper is the lawyers’ belief in the rationality of the legal system. Many legal scholars appear to be quite distressed when the sacred groves of their domain are trampled upon by social scientists. Honoré (1973) accuses those sociologists, who have entered what he terms the ‘World Cup’ game between the proponents of natural law and the legal positivists, of never having learned the rules of the game. Auerbach (1966) takes social scientists to task for having the temerity to study such issues as the validity of laws. The list of accusations is long. But social scientists have their own disciplinary rules. From the perspective of these rules, they may legitimately study any social phenomenon, which by definition also encompasses the polemics of the legal philosophers. This holds true not only for the interactions between the protagonists but also for the substance of their debates.