A One-day International Conference titled “Ways of Knowing: Epistemology & Law” is being organised by The Westminster Law and Theory Lab in association with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London on Thursday, 31st May 2018: 9.45 am – 5.30 pm.
The Conference will provide a forum for presentations and discussion on the place, significance, and further potential of epistemology within socio-legal studies.
There has been little exploration of epistemology in legal scholarship generally, including in journal and book publications – with some notable exceptions. There are infrequent and sporadic references to epistemology in socio-legal studies.
Epistemology, the branch of philosophy concerned with what is knowledge and how it is accessed (which includes, typically, topics such as fact, truth, evidence, justification, and memory) might seem, to some, removed from the social concerns of socio-legal studies. Such a view is misplaced: epistemology deserves greater attention in the field.
The infrequent and sporadic attention that epistemology has received in socio-legal studies belies its importance in informing the understanding of well-established concepts in legal studies, such as legal personhood, legal consciousness and agency, and issues of obedience and resistance.
Epistemology complements theory. As Powell observes: ‘If theory provides intellectual frameworks for establishing and evaluating factual claims and relating them to one another, epistemology provides frameworks for constructing, evaluating, and organizing theoretical claims’.
It is also widely recognised, typically outside legal research, that epistemology bears upon methods. Important, too, is the role of praxis in knowledge production, and its relationship to epistemology.
There remains a need for socio-legal counterpoints to traditional formalist accounts of law that eschew the social dimensions of knowledge. Recent political shifts globally underline the importance of analysing epistemology with especial reference to race, class and other historically subordinated or vulnerable epistemic communities.
Call for Papers
We welcome all contributors, especially from doctoral, emerging, and early-career scholars, to submit papers for presentation in parallel sessions (estimated: three in number, each comprising three papers). These sessions will seek to build the capacity of doctoral, emerging, and early-career scholars by pairing those scholars with established Chairs and by inviting the day’s invited speakers as discussants to the papers.
Up to 300 words. Add title & contact details.
Email by 26 February 2018 to Dermot.Feenan@sas.ac.uk.
Westminster Staff and Students Free (who can select option free and provide details)
T: +44 (0)20 7915 5511
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