Philippe Nonet, For Jurisprudential Sociology, 10 Law & Soc'y Rev. 525 (1976)
A crude & dogmatic understanding of logical positivism has spread through the social sciences, including the sociology of law, & committed them to a pseudoscientific ideal of rigor, by which major ends of inquiry, such as objectivity & clarity, are transformed into prerequisites of research. The effect is to sever the social sciences from the intellectual heritage of political, legal, & ethical theory, & to trivialize their concerns & findings. An alternative is to recognize that the intellectual significance of sociological ideas is derivative. The conclusions of social inquiry gain meaning & resonance from what they contribute to the enduring normative concerns of classical philosophy, ie, to the clarification of values, & to the assessment of the conditions & costs of their pursuit. Far from fostering "bias" or indulging obscurity, only a philosophically informed social science can further the larger scientific aims of reducing ignorance & arbitrariness in discourse about human affairs. Accordingly, the sociology of law should resist attempts to draw a sharp line between "pure sociology" & jurisprudence or normative inquiry. The scientific study of law must be jurisprudentially informed, take legal ideas seriously, & reach issues of policy. "Jurisprudential sociology" integrates analytical, descriptive, & normative theory. Jurisprudential issues -- such as the relations of law & politics, law & morality, law & coercion -- point to variable aspects of legal phenomena; to study the conditions affecting such variables is to assess the varying capacity of law to further different kinds of human aspirations. AA.