Legal Theory Lexicon: Legal Theory, Jurisprudence, and the Philosophy of Law

Lawrence B. Solum, Georgetown University Law Center


The Legal Theory Lexicon series usually explicates some concept in legal theory, jurisprudence, or philosophy of law. But what are those fields and how do they relate to each other? Is "jurisprudence" a synonym for "philosophy of law" or are these two overlapping but distinct fields? Is "legal theory" broader or narrower than jurisprudence? And why should we care about this terminology? As always, this entry in the Legal Theory Lexicon series is aimed at law students, especially first-year law students with an interest in legal theory.