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Getting Real: Jurisprudence and Structural Realism
Legal Issues Journal (2017)
  • Kevin P. Lee
Mainstream Anglophone jurisprudence looks to analytic philosophy for insights into methodologies and core presuppositions. Among these have been the epistemological theories of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Willard Quine, whose theories have been advanced by Dennis Patterson and Brian Leiter, respectively. Their epistemologies are anti-foundational, in the sense that they reject the kind of certain foundation that are exemplified in Cartesian philosophy. And, they are coherentist in the sense that they seek to legitimate truth-claims by reference to entire linguistic systems. A resulting feature of these theories has been methodological commitments that focus on clarifying the boundaries between concepts. While this approach has been insightful, in the current context in which information and communication technologies have created new awareness of the interconnections between information systems and have given rise to new informational concepts and issues, the logico-linguistic epistemologies are increasingly challenged by alternative perspectives. One of these is Structural Realism, which is influential among the natural sciences, and especially physics. Notably, an informational variant of it is the epistemology endorsed by the Philosophy of Information described by Luciano Floridi. This essay argues for the applicability of Floridi’s Informational Structural Realism (ISR) to jurisprudence. Unlike the main stream theories, ISR promotes examination of the connections among types of information and informational structures. It is an important shift for legal theory today, since the challenges that the ICT presents have to do with pattern recognition across vast domains of diverse data. An information jurisprudence is now required to understand the issues emerging from the ICT.
  • Jurisprudence,
  • epistemology,
  • information,
  • computer theory,
  • structural realism,
  • philosophy of information
Publication Date
July, 2017
Citation Information
Lee, Kevin P., Getting Real: Jurisprudence and Structural Realism. Legal Issues Journal 5(2) (July 2017), Forthcoming.