Mapping Legal Theory


  • Richard F. Devlin



In this essay, the author briefly outlines recent trends in Canadian jurisprudence. Beginning with a brief overview of the classical jurisprudential debate between natural lawyers, legal positivists, and legal realists, the author then provides an introduction to a new theoretical tradition which he terms "Artifactualism", as well as a survey of contemporary "Artifactualist Jurisprudence". He argues that there has been a significant theoretical shift away from the classical conceptualization of law as morality (as embodied in natural law, and challenged by legal positivism and legal realism), toward the conceptualization of law as politics (as promulgated by artifactualism). This new conceptualization of law as the "terrain of struggle over the meaning and quality of social existence" has informed the works of Artifactualist jurisprudents in the areas of Liberalism, Marxism, Feminism, First Nations and Critical Legal Studies, and serves to elucidate some of the tensions in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.