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Copyright (c) 2004 The American Society of Comparative Law, Inc.
The American Journal of Comparative Law

ARTICLE: Against Metaphysics in Law: The Historical Background of American and Scandinavian Legal Realism Compared

Spring, 2004

The American Journal of Comparative Law

52 Am. J. Comp. L. 469




1. Introduction
A classic theme of comparative law has been classification of legal families. The traditional comparative law accords Scandinavian law a place in the Civil Law family. Not, however, quite in the nuclear family. The leading text book by Zweigert and K<um o>tz sets Nordic law aside from the Romanistic and German legal families as a distinct subgroup. For Zweigert and K<um o>tz "it is clear that [...] Nordic laws cannot be allocated to the Common Law, for the only legal systems which belong to the Common Law are those which are historically traceable to medieval English law, and the history of the Nordic systems has been quite independent of English law." 1

The traditional classification has, however, recently become a subject of mounting criticism. 2 Although this article is not intended as a contribution to that debate, I hope to be able to offer one example of why the traditional taxonomy may indeed be in need of revision. One of the problems with the traditional classifications is that they are too history-based to cope with apparent similarities with some of the world's legal systems which historically have little in common. The benefit of the newer taxonomies is that they are not solely built on history.

This article deals with the comparative history of American and Scandinavian legal realism. The question is why legal realism became so popular among the American and Scandinavian legal scholars of the early nineteenth century. Why did the same development not take ...
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