I have two main purposes in this essay: First, to show that conceptual analysis is not nearly as central to legal philosophy as typically assumed. The main methodological thrust of analytical jurisprudence, and in particular of legal positivism, is reductionism, not conceptual analysis. Consequently, the main objections to legal positivism are best seen as arguing against the possibility of reduction. Second, I aim to show that the interpretivist challenges to analytical jurisprudence bark up the wrong tree in this respect, and actually fail to engage with the methodological stance they aim to replace. Along the way I offer a partial defense of reductionism and the limited essentialism that comes with it.



Date of this Version

January 2012

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