Ernest-Alexandre Roguin, La science juridique pure, 3 vols., Paris/ Lausanne: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence/ F. Rouge & Cie., 1923
With his three-volume treatise on “Pure legal science” from 1923, Ernst Roguin accomplishes the proposals he had made thirtythree years earlier in his book on “La règle de droit” from 1889. (See no. 0.13 of this Legal Anthology.)
Historical Situation and Systematic Context
Ernest Roguin indicates to have taken profit from his extensive occupation with the comparison of legal orders, leading to his “Traité de droit civil compare”, a seven volume opus magnum. In short, the author only defends his general attitude as well as his standpoint in specific questions of the earlier volume with the very same subject. Apparently, the publication of the earlier book had caused a lot of criticism. However, the delay in time of these arguments seems to be too distant, the replication shows to be rather late; therefore, the subsequent attempt to confirm his purely dogmatic jurisprudence seems to be untimely, unnecessary indeed. Instead of a vivid discussion or even reception, one can only ex post ascertain the failure of the main proposals made by Roguin. In consequence, his attempt to a pure legal science remains episodic.
As a basis for his system of pure jurisprudence, Ernest Roguin distinguishes five intellectual functions: imagination, history, pure science or theory-matic, art and critique. Law is located in the third category or classification, a choice that corresponds to the decision to incorporate legal thought within a framework of sociology. Therefore, critique for instance cannot be justified before the high court of behaviourism, that is the underlying ground on which jurisprudence should be established as a purely dogmatic science. Charles Secrétan has criticised this division from the standpoint of Catholic social philosophy, however his criticism is not accepted by Roguin. The same applies to history, because the only laws claimed valid are these of interdependence and causation, and the model for jurisprudence this time is mathematics (in comparison to chemistry and biology in the first treatise). The definition of law, i.e. the concept of law is to be derived from general insights into the hierarchical structure of legal order and not from the reality of legal practice. But what Roguin does in fact, is nothing less and nothing more than to extract a certain pure theory of law out of the material of legal practice.
Such generalities of law are followed by special considerations on the law about nature, possibility, utility and so on. The core and highlight of this characterisation by Ernest Roguin are that pure legal science according to his position is only possible and not necessary, is only one of more other possible characters of jurisprudence. If this is true, what would the whole exercise be worth? Accordingly, there is not one logic, but a number of possible logics. But for what reason can a set of diverse logics be introduced into a scientific context? In any case this strategy is not allowed by a philosophical point of view!
A difference between the pure legal science, the interpretation and application of positive law, and the so-called encyclopaedia of law, as well as the natural law is identified. The scientific, purely dogmatic jurisprudence turns out to be only a part of every integral jurisprudence, and therefore there is a crucial difference to legal philosophy: “Nous pensons qu’il convient de réserver la denomination de ‘philosophie du droit’ aux travaux qui définissent le droit, en recherchent le fondement, en poursuivent l’évolution historique dans ses grands traits, étudient le role du droit dans le monde social, et peut-être s’efforcent de construire une legislation naturelle ou idéale. Si on admet cette conception, ‘La règle de droit’ et le present livre contiennent certaines études rentrant dans la philosophie du droit; mais les plus nombreuses y restent étrangères à raison du point de vue particulier auquel ells sont faites et du caractère trop special de leurs objets”. This passage seems to be symptomatic in our view. The outcome of the own research stands in function to the personal decisions of the author, that is true. It should be avoided, however, that the personal systematisation of individual inspirations and imaginations are based on an attitude, that is typically vaudoise, i.e. “si oui, si non”. This practice of science is nothing more than a personal view of an eccentric person, roughly speaking. François Guisan has characterised the type of thinker in the following way: “Vraiment un type original de Vaudois! Aggressif en paroles au lieu de conciliant, incisive au lieu de précautionneux, rigoureux et précis dans la pensée au lieu d’indécis et de vague, d’une intransigeante indépendance au lieu de suivre prudemment la majorité, travailleur acharné au pays de l’aimable douceur de vivre, conservateur enfin, et aristocrate déclaré, au milileu d’un people très démocrate et féru d’égalité: comme Vaudois, Roguin est lui-même un paradoxe” (François Guisan: Ernest Roguin, in: Schweizer Juristen der letzten hundert Jahre, mit einem Vorwort von Max Huber, mit einer historischen Einleitung von Eduard His, ed. Hans Schulthess, Zürich: Schulthess & Co. A.-G., 1945, pp. 393 ss., 400). This characterisation partly dissents the prementioned judgment, however, they perfectly coincide because where could the difference be?
Conclusions, Insights, Evidence
In order to render justice to the work of Ernest Roguin one has to admit that he represents many of the dogmatical arguments in their elementary form, arguments that often occur even today. In terms of an enlightened legal philosophy, the approach appears merely dogmatic, i.e. implicit conditions are not at all reflected, not only not taken into consideration, but explicitly externalised. Similar ideas can also be found in Germany, as a counterpart to the predominating Historical School, namely in Karl Bergbohm (“Jurisprudenz und Rechtsphilosophie – Kritische Abhandlungen”, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1892).
Philosophical Valuation and Jurisprudential Significance
In his treatise of general sociology (“Traité de sociologie générale”), Vilfredo Pareto praises the writing by Ernest Roguin in question above all. He identifies an attempt of jurisprudence to become a positivist science of law, as he declares. However, whereas the treatise by Pareto has established as a classical piece of literature in economics, the overwhelmingly extensive work of Roguin has disappeared from the scene of jurisprudence.
In his comprehensive consideration of the relationship between Ernest Roguin and Vilfredo Pareto, Norberto Bobbio is forced to conclude to the following judgment: “Du bref avant-goût que Roguin donne de sa future sociologie dans l’introduction du tôme premier, on peut tirer avec certitude la conclusion qu’elle n’était aucunement influence par celle de Pareto”. (Norberto Bobbio: Le vaudois Ernest Roguin, sociologue et théoricien du droit, in: Cahiers Vilfredo Pareto, Jg. 181, Nr. 59, S. 121-140.) This system should be based upon a double tendency of inclusion and repulsion within a certain group or society or community. The very same occurs in the domain of the purely dogmatic legal science, leading to a result that differs only to a minimal extent from the so-called “Freund-Feind” doctrine proposed by Carl Schmitt. This conclusion one would not have supposed from the opening declarations of purity as a means to provide some kind of neutral legal thought.
Further Information About the Author
Ernest Roguin, born on 27 May 1851 in Yverdon-les-Bains, died 5 May 1939 in Lausanne, followed his studies in jurisprudence at the Universities of Lausanne and Leipzig from 1869 onwards and got his master’s degree in 1874 by the Academy of Lausanne (which at that time was not yet a University, properly speaking and therefore did not have the permission to award a doctorate). In the very beginning of his career, he was sent as a diplomat to Paris until 1884; and later in his life he was sent as a Swiss representative to the Den Haag Conferences. Even in 1884 he was nominated extra-ordinary professor at the University of Lausanne, and from 1880 to 1926 he taught academic courses in the domains of international civil law, comparison of legal orders, as well as introductions to jurisprudence. From 1903 to 1917 he signed as president of the École des sciences sociales et politiques, and since 1891 he was a member of the Institut de droit international. In his time, Roguin was highly regarded as an outstanding jurisprudent and received many titles and honours.
The thesis of Ernest Roguin was dedicated to article 50 of the Swiss Federal Constitution and appeared in 1880. In his main domain he published a first treatise on “Conflits des lois suisses en matière internationale et intercantonale” and between 1904 and 1912 his magistral work “Traité de droit civil compare” appeared in seven volumes. Our focus, however, is on the two titles covering legal philosophy, i.e. the early volume “La régle de droit” (1889) and the three volumes proposing “La science juridique pure” (1923).
For more information about the person, please consult:
Norberto Bobbio: Le vaudois Ernest Roguin, sociologue et théoricien du droit, in: Cahiers Vilfredo Pareto, Jg. 181, Nr. 59, S. 121-140;
François Guisan: Ernest Roguin, in: Schweizer Juristen der letzten hundert Jahre, mit einem Vorwort von Max Huber, mit einer historischen Einleitung von Eduard His, ed. Hans Schulthess, Zürich: Schulthess & Co. A.-G., 1945, pp. 393 ss.
Selected Works of the Same Author
Ernest Roguin: Étude de science juridique pure – La règle du droit (Analyse générale, spécialités, souveraineté des États, assiette de l’impôt, théorie des statuts) – Système des rapports de droit privée précédé d’une introduction sur la classification des disciplines, Paris/ Lausanne: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence/ F. Rouge, 1889; Idem: Observation sur la codification des lois civiles, Lausanne: Ch. Ciret-Genton, 1896, pp. 73-134; Idem: La science juridique pure, 3 vols., Paris/ Lausanne: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence/ F. Rouge 1923; Idem: Sociologie 5 vols., Lausanne: C. Pasche, 1928-1932.
Norberto Bobbio: Le Vaudois Ernest Roguin, sociologue et théoricien du droit, in: Cahiers Vilfredo Pareto, Revue européenne de science sociales, vol. XIX (1981), Nr. 59, pp. 121 ss.;
Sandrine Pina: La recherche d’une science pure du droit. L’œuvre méconnue d’Ernest Roguin face à la théorie de Hans Kelsen, in: Droits, Revue française de théorie, de philosophie et de cultures juridiques, vol. 2014/ 2, Nr. 60, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2014;
Ernest Roguin: Étude de science juridique pure – La règle du droit (Analyse générale, spécialités, souveraineté des États, assiette de l’impôt, théorie des statuts) – Système des rapports de droit privée précédé d’une introduction sur la classification des disciplines, Paris/ Lausanne: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence/ F. Rouge, 1889;
Denis Tappy: Vilfredo Pareto and Ernest Roguin, in: Cahiers Vilfredo Pareto, Revue européenne de science sociales, vol. XLVIII (2010), pp. 146 ss.
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