Normativism or the Normative Theory of Legal Science: Some Epistemological Problems*
Normativism or the normative theory of legal science represents an attempt to describe (and to rationalize) the actual practice and thinking of contemporary jurists. On the one hand, what jurists say (and think) they are doing when they interpret the materials that are usually termed ‘sources of law’ (statutes, judicial precedents, regulations, and the like) is nothing more than a description of norms; and the norms themselves are conceived of as ‘data’ that precede the interpretations offered of them. (Norms precede their interpretations, which is to say that their existence precedes the interpretative activity directed to them.) On the other hand, jurists in fact typically provide statements of norms in a deontic language — in a language that is to say, that is syntactically indistinguishable from the language used to give expression to the norms themselves. And the normative theory of legal science recommends precisely this approach.
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