Law as an Epistemological Tool: The Evolution of Post-Modern "Configurative Thinking" for Law, Science and Policy
The contribution of post-modern scholarship to contemporary social thought covers a staggering variety of disciplines. In law and jurisprudence, the shifting vantage points implicit in post-modernism have created a dynamic dualism between observation and participation which has undermined the presumed certitude of clear-cut objectivity as a foundation of truth and validation in the world of social-scientific discourse. Throughout American legal history, many prestigious theorists and jurists have pointed to the objectivity of law as the very foundation of a defensible jurisprudence, and would view the version of post-modernism in the United States identified with critical legal studies as an approach that is designed to annihilate the discipline itself. As such, the bastion of objectivity has been resilient and defended with unusual tenacity.
Today, however, the mighty schools of jurisprudence tend to divide themselves into those who assume certain objectivity in law and those who recognize the shifting of vantage points as an invaluable tool for examining the nature of law and its social and political impact on society. In this paper, we describe the little understood history of post-modernism in the development of contemporary theories of law and jurisprudence and examine the contributions of post-modern thought to contemporary legal scholarship and configurative thinking.
Keywords: Law, Legal Theory, Jurisprudence, Critical Legal Theory, Pragmatism, Configurative Thinking
Winston Percival Nagan
Founder and Director, Institute for Human Rights, Peace & Development, University of Florida College of Law
Fellow, Institute for Human Rights, Peace & Development, University of Florida College of Law