“Es gibt keine besondere Methode, die Erfolg garantiert oder wahrscheinlich macht. Wissenschafter lösen Probleme nicht darum, weil sie einen methodologischen Zauberstab schwingen.”
(Paul Feyerabend: Die Wissenschaften in einer freien Gesellschaft, in: Der wissenschaftstheoretische Realismus und die Autorität der Wissenschaften − Ausgewählte Schriften I (Wissenschaftstheorie, Wissenschaft und Philosophie, Band 13), Braunschweig/ Wiesbaden: Vieweg, 1978, p. 353)
Introduction: Methodological vs. Philosophical Foundation of Jurisprudence
Paul Feyerabend, professor at the Federal Polytechnical School in Zurich (“Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule”), expresses a deep scepticism, when he writes about the “magic baton of methodology” that does not exist and, therefore, cannot guarantee success in science. Hereby, he addresses the risk of pan-methodology, i.e. the fact that methodology is, generally speaking, an expression of insurmountable rationalism and intellectualism. In his monography published in 1975, entitled “Against Method”, he had already outlined his anarchistic theory of science, and in his later monography published in 1999, he praises the “Conquest of Abundance”, and qualifies abstraction as a fairy tale, to be replaced by the richness of being. By analogy adapted to jurisprudence, this criticism of methodology is more than at its right place, since the law and the legal order are a means to the end of the individual situation, of the individual themselves. The application of the law to the individual case by jurisdiction as well as the objectivation of the law in the positive legal order by the legislator, and in general legal thought, as practised by jurisprudence can alltogether only be successful as a kind of practice in art, based on judicial judgment, because the method alone cannot guarantee successful outcomes in jurisprudence. Even philosophy cannot provide any ascertained ontological or deontological systematic order of normative rules or principles. Rather, one has to opt for an ecology of mind, as this has been proposed by Gregory Bateson: An Ecology of Mind – Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology, London: Jason Aronson, 1987, first printing San Francisco: Chandler, 1972).
Let us briefly review the selected Swiss contributions on methodology that mainly concern the scientific character of jurisprudence: They virtually all surpass mere methodology, since Walther Burckhardt writes on method and its sublimation in a system, August Simonius treats the deeper origins of the theory of the sources of law, when referring to the dictum, that “lex facit regem” (Henry de Bracton), and even Wilhelm Oswald, who deals with persistent formalism in legal thinking tends to escape from methodological fields by calling material ethics in cause; Alois Troller, finally, favours an inventive and significant enlargement of method by philosophy itself, when he designs his “Grundriss einer selbstverständlichen juristischen Methode und Rechtsphilosophie”. If questions of methodology are not set introduced into the context of legal philosophy in a broader sense, the questions of jurisprudence turn out to be only apparent problems (Gregor Edlin: “Rechtsphilosophische Scheinprobleme”). A more specific matter consists in the problem of the proper and correct interpretation of the Swiss Civil code, especially how vacations (lacunae) in the legal text have to be filled by jurisdictional application (case law).
However, we also have to indicate the propaedeutic importance of methodologically orientated general introductions to jurisprudence in favour of young students, as elaborated, for instance, by Walther Burckhardt, by Claude Du Pasquier, and especially by Alois Troller, who also gives a true introduction to legal philosophy in his writing, entitled “Ein Fussweg zur Jurisprudenz”.
Excursus – Stephen Edelston Toulmin: Jurisprudence as Model for Logics and Epistemology
From all that, we have to conclude that legal methods and methodology show an ambiguous character, as they are convenient for jurisprudence as a dogmatic art and science, but non-constructive for a philosophically enlightened jurisprudence, as they are enabling and compromising jurisprudence at the same time. This limitation of the usefulness of the legal method also affects logic in general, and even epistemology, as it has been profoundly unveiled by Stephen Edelston Toulmin: “Epistemology, in short, has comprised a set of logical-looking answers to psychological-looking questions”. What veritable sciences need is a working logic instead of idealised methodology: “Logic is concerned not with the manner of our inferring, or with questions of technique: its primary business is a retrospective, justificatory one − with the arguments we can put forward afterwards to make good our claim that the conclusions arrived at are acceptable, because justifiable, conclusions. [...] Logic is concerned with the soundness of the claims we make − with the solidity of the grounds we produce to support them, the firmness of the backing we provide for them − or, to change the metaphor, with the sort of case we present in defence of our claims. [...] Logic (we may say) is generalised jurisprudence. Arguments can be compared with law-suits, and the claims we make and argue for in extra-legal contexts with claims made in the courts, while the cases we present in making good each kind of claim can be compared with each other. A main task of jurisprudence is to characterise the essentials of the legal process: the procedures by which claims-at-law are put forward, disputed and determined, and the categories in terms of which this is done. Our own inquiry is a parallel one. [...] Our subject will be the prudentia, not simply of ius, but more generally of ratio” (The Uses of Argument, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958, p. 6). Such a conception is particularly evident in the case of juris-prudence because of its being a prototype of scientific prudentia. Toulmin addresses radical critique to logic and argues “that formal logicians have misconceived their categories, and reached their conclusions only by a series of mistakes and misunderstandings. They seek to justify their paradoxes as the result of thinking and speaking, for once in a while, absolutely strictly; whereas the conclusions the present turn out on examination to be, in fact, not so much strict as beside the point. [...] The over-simplified categories of formal logic have an attraction, not only on account of their simplicity, but also because they fit in nicely with some other influential prejudices” (l. c., p. 146). Toulmin even beholds jurisprudence as a model for logics, and not the inverse way. He is convinced that “by treating logic as generalised jurisprudence and testing our ideas against our actual practice of argument-assessment, rather than against a philosopher’s ideal, we shall eventually build up a picture very different from the traditional one”. He explains “that the categories of formal logic were built up from a study of the analytic syllogism, that this is an unrepresentative and misleading simple sort of argument, and that many of the paradoxical commonplaces of formal logic and epistemology are arising from the misapplication of these categories to arguments of other sorts”. In the following, he argues, “that formal logicians have misconceived their categories, and reached their conclusions only by a series of mistakes and misunderstandings. They seek to justify their paradoxes as the result of thinking and speaking, for once in a while, absolutely strictly; whereas the conclusions the present turn out on examination to be, in fact, not so much strict as beside the point. [...] The over-simplified categories of formal logic have an attraction, not only on account of their simplicity, but also because they fit in nicely with some other influential prejudices” (l. c.).
Confronted with this constellation, Stephen Edelston Toulmin raises the following demands: “(1.) the need for a rapprochement between logic and epistemology, which will become not two subjects but one only; (2.) the importance in logic of the comparative method – treating arguments in all fields as of equal interest and propriety, and so comparing and contrasting their structures without any suggestion that arguments in one field are ‘superior’ to those of another; and (3.) the reintroduction of historical, empirical and even − in a sense – anthropological considerations into the subject which philosophers had prided themselves on purifying, more than all other branches of philosophy, of any but a priori arguments” (l. c., p. 254). In order to establish such an intellectual enterprise, jurisprudence can serve as a model and prototype, in order to interrupt the false dominance of induction in the domain of analytic theory of sciences, deriving from the pure logics of mathematics. “Geometry and jurisprudence, the traditional models for the sciences, have been displaced in recent centuries from their earlier pre-eminence, and one must acquire an understanding also of the methods of thought characteristic of physics, biology and the other natural − or ‘inductive’ − sciences. [...] Epistemology can divorce itself from psychology and physiology, and logic can divorce itself from pure mathematics: the proper business of both is to study the structures of our arguments in different fields, and to see clearly the nature of the merits and defects characteristic of each type of argument. [...] Jurisprudence is one subject which has always embraced a part of logic within its scope, and what we called to begin with ‘the jurisprudential analogy’ can be seen in retrospect to amount to something more than a mere analogy. If the same as has long been done for legal arguments were done for arguments of other types, logic would make great strides forward” (l. c., p. 249, 255).
For Further Reading
Paul Feyerabend: Against Method – Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge, London: Verso, 1975; idem: Conquest of Abundance – A Tale of Abstraction versus the Richness of Being, ed. Bert Terpstra, Chicago/ London: The Universitsy of Chicago Press, 1999; idem: Die Torheit der Philosophen – Dialoge über die Erkenntnis (Platonic Phantasies – Concluding Unphilosophical Walk in the Woods), Hamburg: Junius, 1995 (first printing 1990); idem: Wissenschaft als Kunst, in: Edition Suhrkamp, vol. 1231, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1984; idem: Die Wissenschaften in einer freien Gesellschaft, in: Der wissenschaftstheoretische Realismus und die Autorität der Wissenschaften − Ausgewählte Schriften I (Wissenschaftstheorie, Wissenschaft und Philosophie, Band 13), Braunschweig/ Wiesbaden: Vieweg, 1978;
Stephen Edelston Toulmin: The Uses of Argument, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958; idem: The Philosophy of Science – An Introduction, London: Hutchinson University Library, 1953; idem: An Examination of the Place of Reason in Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1950; idem: Foresight and Understanding – An Enquiry Into the Aims of Science, London: Hutchinson, 1961.