Similarities Between Philosophy and Law

There are many similarities between Philosophy and Law as faculties of knowledge. I would go as far as to say that studying Philosophy might prepare someone for studying and practicing law and other work in social justice. I think that since Philosophy is about uncovering the nature of things, of all things, it enables the kind of analytical thinking that is a pillar for a successful justice system.

The first connection between Philosophy and legal practice is the general form of philosophical information and knowledge. Argument theory and logic are fundamentals in studying Philosophy and are applied in all philosophical work. Philosophical texts, from ancient to contemporary eras, defend and refute or critique arguments for their reader. The reader is expected to evaluate and analyze the success of the argument on the basis of its premises. This is essentially the kind of interpretation skills required in the practice of law. Decision makers in the justice system (for example, jury members) are expected to evaluate opposing arguments before evaluating them in consideration with one another and arriving at one conclusion: guilty, innocent, or somewhere in between. On a much smaller scale, I am making an argument to you throughout the course of this very article, and you are invited to evaluate and analyze the logic of it.

Writing any philosophical text involves creating an argument and reasoning for it adequately, all while avoiding what are known in philosophy to be argument fallacies. This kind of reasoning is essentially the work of a lawyer. In philosophy and in law, the content of the argument itself is not primary concern for the individual creating the argument – instead, it is the logical success of the argument. While philosophers might want to have an argument that makes sense and is true to their own opinions and beliefs in practical life, the logical success of the argument is most important. Similarly, a lawyer might not wholeheartedly believe in the innocence of the defendant they are working for, but they are expected to create logical reasoning to argue for their innocence in a particular case despite those personal beliefs.

Further, a strong argument accounts for the logical strengths of its counter-argument or opponent, and so any philosopher who hopes to create a strong argument should aim to be capable of playing devil’s advocate in any case. This is called being charitable in Philosophy. Similarly, in social justice and law, someone who is in a position to draw conclusions about justice should be able to consider both views with charitability despite any strong personal opinion on the matter.

Philosophical theories are built on the arguments that have existed before them and stand in dialect and discourse with the Philosophy that stands before them. For centuries, it has been common to see philosophers directly addressing their precedents, either by building on their conclusions, critiquing the logic of their argument, or involving their work in some other form.

Preparing for the response of the opponent is a philosophical strength. Consider how a liberal argument in political debate is a weak one unless it addresses and considers of the conservative political view on the topic. A strong case in legal practice is stronger if it is prepared for the insights of the opposing argument.

While logic, form and argument theory is the overarching connection between Philosophy and law, these two fields have many more intersections clearly . Many connections can be profoundly exemplified by some specific fields of philosophy, such as Ethics and Political Philosophy (of course, there is also philosophy of law, which is self-explanatorily related), within which the foundations of justice are deeply explored through a philosophical lens. These kinds of philosophy relate to law and other social work because their focus is on analyzing social activity, unlike other fields such as Metaphysics. 

The phenomena that Philosophy focuses on is general enough to account for most aspects of human life, which has implications for our understanding of social life. The broadness of philosophical studies equips a student with the skills to interpret and reason in practical life using Philosophical strategy. How would a social justice system look without the logical structure that is characterized by Philosophy?

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