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Legal Studies

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Legal Studies

Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists (including legal philosophers and social theorists of law), hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions. Modern jurisprudence began in the 18th century and was focused on the first principles of the natural law, civil law, and the law of nations. General jurisprudence can be broken into categories both by the type of question scholars seek to answer and by the theories of jurisprudence, or schools of thought, regarding how those questions are best to be answered. Contemporary philosophy of law, which deals with general jurisprudence, addresses problems in two rough groups:

Answers to these questions come from four primary schools of thought in general jurisprudence:

Also of note is the work of the contemporary Philosopher of Law Ronald Dworkin who has advocated a constructivist theory of jurisprudence that can be characterized as a middle path between natural law theories and positivist theories of general jurisprudence.

The English term is based on the Latin word jurisprudentia: juris is the genitive form of jus meaning "law", and prudentia means "knowledge". The word is first attested in English in 1628, at a time when the word prudence had the now obsolete meaning of "knowledge of or skill in a matter". The word may have come via the French jurisprudence, which is attested earlier.

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