Article Title

Does law need a theory of truth? A look at the epistemology of the New Haven School of Jurisprudence


Law and truth have a complicated relationship. Epistemologists’ attempts to resolve this complication by articulating a coherent theory of truth have only exacerbated the issue. But is a theory of truth necessary for jurisprudence? If ‘we are all pragmatists now’, might we not be better off rejecting standard accounts of epistemology altogether? This paper will outline how the pragmatist rejection of epistemology resolves the challenge of Gettier problems. It will trace the influence of the early pragmatists on American Legal Realism; particularly Holmes, Llewellyn and Frank. It will then suggest, following Lasswell and McDougal, that the American Legal Realists crucially misread Dewey, and that the New Haven School of Jurisprudence corrects this misconception. Properly understood as a radically pragmatist project, the New Haven School of Jurisprudence offers an account of legal theory that avoids standard epistemological controversies and still offers a coherent and effective approach to jurisprudential enquiry.


epistemological controversies, law and truth, pragmatists, jurisprudence, New Haven School of Jurisprudence

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