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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ A summary of different approaches to jurisprudence and judicial decision making among developed countries.
▪ From the standpoint of mainstream contemporary jurisprudence the issue seems irreconcilable.
▪ Lectures were given on agriculture, rural economy, and medical jurisprudence.
▪ Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest also based his judgment on the nineteenth century jurisprudence.
▪ The development of fairness within our jurisprudence has not as yet caused us to depart from the adjudicative framework within which we operate.
▪ This housed oriental manuscripts, many of poetry, mysticism and jurisprudence, going back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Jurisprudence \Ju`ris*pru"dence\, n. [L. jurisprudentia; jus, juris, right, law + prudentia a foreseeing, knowledge of a matter, prudence: cf. F. jurisprudence. See Just, a., and Prudence.] The science of juridical law; the knowledge of the laws, customs, and rights of men in a state or community, necessary for the due administration of justice.

The talents of Abelard were not confined to theology, jurisprudence, philosophy.
--J. Warton.

Medical jurisprudence, that branch of juridical law which concerns questions of medicine.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1620s, "knowledge of law," from French jurisprudence (17c.) and directly from Late Latin iurisprudentia "the science of law," from iuris "of right, of law" (genitive of ius; see jurist) + prudentia "knowledge, a foreseeing" (see prudence). Meaning "the philosophy of law" is first attested 1756. Related: Jurisprudential.


n. (context legal English) The philosophy, science, and study of law and decisions based on the interpretation thereof

  1. n. the branch of philosophy concerned with the law and the principles that lead courts to make the decisions they do [syn: law, legal philosophy]

  2. the collection of rules imposed by authority; "civilization presupposes respect for the law"; "the great problem for jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order" [syn: law]


Jurisprudence is the science, study, and theory of law. It includes principles behind law that make the law. Scholars of jurisprudence, also known as jurists or legal theorists (including legal philosophers and social theorists of law), hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems, and of legal institutions. Modern jurisprudence began in the 18th century and was focused on the first principles of the natural law, civil law, and the law of nations. General jurisprudence can be divided into categories both by the type of question scholars seek to answer and by the theories of jurisprudence, or schools of thought, regarding how those questions are best answered. Contemporary philosophy of law, which deals with general jurisprudence, addresses problems in two rough groups:

  1. Problems internal to law and legal systems.
  2. Problems of law as a particular social institution as law relates to the larger political and social situation in which it exists.

Answers to these questions come from four primary schools of thought in general jurisprudence:

  • Natural law is the idea that there are rational objective limits to the power of legislative rulers. The foundations of law are accessible through reason and it is from these laws of nature that human-created laws gain whatever force they have.
  • Legal positivism, by contrast to natural law, holds that there is no necessary connection between law and morality and that the force of law comes from some basic social facts. Legal positivists differ on what those facts are.
  • Legal realism is a third theory of jurisprudence which argues that the real world practice of law is what determines what law is; the law has the force that it does because of what legislators, lawyers and judges do with it.
  • Critical legal studies are a younger theory of jurisprudence that has developed since the 1970s. It is primarily a negative thesis that holds that the law is largely contradictory, and can be best analyzed as an expression of the policy goals of the dominant social group.

Also of note is the work of the contemporary philosopher of law Ronald Dworkin who has advocated a constructivist theory of jurisprudence that can be characterized as a middle path between natural law theories and positivist theories of general jurisprudence.

A further relatively new field is known as therapeutic jurisprudence, concerned with the impact of legal processes on wellbeing and mental health.

Usage examples of "jurisprudence".

The laws which excuse, on any occasions, the ignorance of their subjects, confess their own imperfections: the civil jurisprudence, as it was abridged by Justinian, still continued a mysterious science, and a profitable trade, and the innate perplexity of the study was involved in tenfold darkness by the private industry of the practitioners.

The maxims of Roman jurisprudence, if they could fairly be transferred from private property to public dominion, would have adjudged to the emperor Honorius the guardianship of his nephew, till he had attained, at least, the fourteenth year of his age.

But if, on the other hand, the positive school of criminology denies, on the ground of researches in scientific physiological psychology, that the human will is free and does not admit that one is a criminal because he wants to be, but declares that a man commits this or that crime only when he lives in definitely determined conditions of personality and environment which induce him necessarily to act in a certain way, then alone does the problem of the origin of criminality begin to be submitted to a preliminary analysis, and then alone does criminal law step out of the narrow and arid limits of technical jurisprudence and become a true social and human science in the highest and noblest meaning of the word.

Roman jurisprudence has pronounced, that the charge of tutelage should constantly attend the emolument of succession.

In a just war the emperor may kill on the battle-field those in arms against him, but the jus gentium, as now interpreted by the jurisprudence of every civilized nation, does not allow him to put them to death after they have ceased resistance, have thrown down their arms, and surrendered.

There we will find neither the village of Oetlingen or the Essence of Beauty, but rather the awaited third friend, the student of jurisprudence Karl Hamelt, returning from Wendlingen, where he had spent his vacation.

But the proud claim of perpetual and indefeasible dominion, which her soldiers could no longer maintain, was firmly asserted by her statesmen and lawyers, whose opinions have been sometimes revived and propagated in the modern schools of jurisprudence.

He ascended a stately tribunal, encompassed by the ministers of justice and punishment: in the presence of both nations, this extraordinary cause was pleaded, according to the forms of civil jurisprudence, and some satisfaction was granted to an injured people, by the sentence and execution of the meaner criminals.

Such had ever been the opinion and practice of the sage Romans: their jurisprudence proscribed the marriage of a citizen and a stranger: in the days of freedom and virtue, a senator would have scorned to match his daughter with a king: the glory of Mark Antony was sullied by an Egyptian wife: and the emperor Titus was compelled, by popular censure, to dismiss with reluctance the reluctant Berenice.

So I went back to college and crammed up on artificial intelligence law and ethics, the jurisprudence of uploading, and recursive tort.

From these materials, with the counsel and approbation of the patriarch and barons, of the clergy and laity, Godfrey composed the Assise of Jerusalem, a precious monument of feudal jurisprudence.

The experience of an abuse, from which our own age and country are not perfectly exempt, may sometimes provoke a generous indignation, and extort the hasty wish of exchanging our elaborate jurisprudence for the simple and summary decrees of a Turkish cadhi.

The Roman law, as found in the Institutes, Pandects, and Novellae of Justinian, or the Corpus Legis Civilis, is the basis of the law and jurisprudence of all Christendom.

Such intrepid virtue, which had escaped pure and unsullied from the intrigues courts, the habits of business, and the arts of his profession, reflects more lustre on the memory of Papinian, than all his great employments, his numerous writings, and the superior reputation as a lawyer, which he has preserved through every age of the Roman jurisprudence.

Around a pathetic piece of old jurisprudence I have gathered a mass of Cumbrian folk-lore and folk-talk with which I have been familiar from earliest youth.