Royal Society of Edinburgh Network Award - Law and Philosophy

Royal Society of Edinburgh Network Award - Law and Philosophy

Issued: Mon, 21 Jan 2019 16:30:00 GMT

A Royal Society of Edinburgh Network Award has been made to Dr Stephan Leuenberger (Philosophy) as Principal Investigator and Professor George Pavlakos as Co-Investigator to investigate 'Grounding in Law: The Nature of Explanatory Projects in Legal Philosophy and their Relevance for Scots Law'.


We commonly take it for granted that there are such legal facts: that a certain contract is valid, or that a certain action constitutes a crime. But in jurisprudence and philosophy of law, their status has long been a matter of debate. They are certainly not fundamental facts, but rather derivative from facts of other kinds. But which other facts, and how? Our project will investigate this question, by drawing on the resources of contemporary metaphysics – specifically, the concept of “grounding”. That concept has recently been used to articulate a structured view of reality, according to which facts and entities of different levels are linked across different levels.

The concept seems tailor-made to be of use in philosophy of law. But while such an application has been suggested in the literature, nobody has developed this idea yet – and this is what we propose to do in this project. The unique explanatory power of this result is that it allows us to study legal systems with formalised sources alongside those that rely on more pluralistic (or diffused) understandings of sources (e.g. international law). In this context, Scots Law points toward a pluralistic conception of what may count as a source of law, beyond legislation and reported cases.The findings of this research will make a decisive contribution to an understanding of the sources of Scots Law but also exploit the historical uniqueness of Scots law to stimulate more fine-grained explanations of the pluralistic legal phenomena, which are increasingly emerging in our post-national age.