Jurisprudence for a Free Society

Event Date

Fall 1966


Georgia Law Review, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Fall 1966), pp. 1-19

The search for a jurisprudence, a theory about law, appropriate for a free society, has long been a subject of concern to legal scholars. In attempting to make some modest contribution to this search, the major themes and arguments McDougal explores are: first, the intimate interrelations of law and public order in any community; second, the intellectual functions required of a useful jurisprudence or theory about law; third, the most important contributions of past schools of jurisprudence to a useful theory about law; fourth, the basic pattern of a policy-oriented approach to inquiry about law; fifth, and finally, some of the conditions for promoting a public order of freedom and human dignity.

It will be obvious that to touch even briefly upon so many vast topics, one must perforce be somewhat abstract. It may be recalled that Professor Thomas Reed Powell, a famous professor of constitutional law at Harvard, once said that a man has a good legal mind if he can think about something to which something is attached without thinking about the thing which is attached. If, therefore, we are to employ good legal minds, we must remember that all levels of abstraction, when the terms admit of empirical specification, are necessary to comprehensive and effective communication.

This article is an adaptation by the Georgia Law Review of the first John A. Sibley lecture given by Professor McDougal on November 30, 1964.

mcdougal1964.pdf (17019 kB)
Typescript from the taped recording of the first Sibley Lecture on November 30, 1964.