III.The Point of Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory
Legal theory and legal philosophy are important in any given legal culture. Theoretical insight is important in two key regards. Firstly, it is important for successful legal practice. It is impossible to solve difficult (or even simple) problems of law without a deeper understanding of what the particular issue is about. A short look at the challenges formulated above (see I.) – from answers to the problem of international terrorism to the structure of the international legal order – illustrates that.
This is not least the case given the internationalisation of law. An understanding of the general structure of laws is essential in enabling us to rise to the challenges of this new embeddedness of norms in international legal contexts. The discussions about hierarchies of law – municipal, supranational or international – illustrates this very clearly
Secondly, theoretical insight is of intrinsic value. Many people in the legal profession spend their whole life working with the law, and it seems hard to imagine that one devotes one’s life to this particular activity without asking some, even passionate, questions about the nature and sense of this kind of occupation. Furthermore, the law is a central and constitutive characteristic of human culture. There can be no understanding of the human condition without sufficiently deep reflection about the law.
Legal philosophy and legal theory provide critical normative yardsticks for the many existential questions we face today. Without such standards, people lack reasons to change, and just as importantly, to support and defend significant, valuable aspects of a given legal order. Consciousness of the sense and meaning of a legal system is a precondition for the survival of some kind of decent civilisation of law.