Jan M. Smits, Maastricht University Faculty of Law, Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI), has published What is Legal Doctrine? On the Aims and Methods of Legal-Dogmatic Research as Maastricht European Private Law Institute Working Paper No. 2015/06. Here is the abstract.
This paper seeks to obtain a better understanding of the aims and methods of doctrinal legal scholarship. It argues that legal doctrine serves the three main goals of description, prescription and justification and makes clear that many methodological choices have to be made in order to pursue these goals. One important finding is that legal doctrine reflects the normative complexity of the law: it offers detailed and sophisticated information about how to deal with conflicting arguments. Stripping the law from this practical knowledge by reducing it to general principles or policies, or by trading it in for economic or empirical analysis, is not helpful. In addition, the doctrinal approach is in many ways the necessary prerequisite for undertaking any other type of analysis of law (such as economic, comparative, empirical or behavioural work). All this contributes to carving out the proper place of legal doctrine in current legal scholarship.Download the article from SSRN at the link.