A Nobel Prize in Legal Science

Theory Empirical Work, and the Scientific Method in the Study of Law

Will there ever be a Nobel Prize in law? Professor Ulen uses this question as a framework for discussing the current state of legal scholar-ship and the trend toward making legal scholarship more “scientific.” First, Professor Ulen discusses the meaning of “science” and the scien-tific method, and summarizes the various theories that have developed over time to verify, modify, or reject scientific paradigms. Next, he con-siders whether or not the study of law is a science. All sciences share core theoretical beliefs that allow for the international study and dissem-ination of scientific information, and that will produce similar results, re-gardless of where they are applied. These theories are then examined and tested using empirical research. Although law has no such set of core theoretical beliefs, there is a growing body of empirical research in the law. Professor Ulen believes that interest in empiricism is growing in the legal academy, and that empirical research can be very beneficial to both legal academics and practitioners. As the amount and breadth of legal empirical research increases, Professor Ulen posits that a core set of theoretical beliefs will emerge in the law, and that increased empiri-cism in the law is vital to the future of the law as a science.

The full text of this Symposium is available to download as a PDF.