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2A - Concepts, Types, and Functions of Law.docx

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Legal Studies
LS 101
Susan Brophy

Unit 1: Basics of Law Week 2A September 17, 2013 S ESSION 2:C ONCEPTS ,T YPES , AND F UNCTIONS OF L AW Background  What it means to categorize  Categorizing law o Different legal systems and traditions o Concept, type, function, etc.  Questions we will explore: o How do we define “law” and its functions? o Is law neutral? o What is “praxis” ad how does it inform Legal Studies scholarship? Categorizing Law Definition of Law  Law as an “abstract term” (V&N p. 8) (define abstract: a discretionary approach to assume what law is based on where and when we are living in)  Informed by opinions about the principles of law  By Max Weber – first sociologist, great student of the bureaucratic system o “An order is law if it is externally guaranteed by the probability that coercion (physical or psychological) to bring about conformity or avenge violation, will be applied by a staff of people holding themselves specially ready for that purpose.” o 3 features of his definition:  Obedience through external pressure  External pressure as coercive (define coercive, relating or using the threat of force) force  Enforcers are state officials o The last one especially distinguishes state law from other types of orders (e.g. religion, customs and conventions Principles of Law  Key principles of law in liberal democracies: o Legal autonomy – legitimacy of the law, you want the notion that law is not affected by politics o Rule of law – no one is above the law o Separation of powers – the three branches of government (judicial, legislative, executive) may not infringe one another o Due process – guarantees a professional and swift process for the person
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