Jurisprudence as the Science of Civil Law

John William Salmond( 1862 – 1924)

In a generic and primary sense jurisprudence includes the entire body of legal doctrine. It is jurisprudeiitia—the knowledge of law—and in this sense all law books are books of jurisprudence. By law in this connection is meant exclusively the civil law, the law of the land, as opposed to those other bodies of rules to which the name of law has been extended by analogy. If we use the term “ science ” in its widest permissible sense, as including the systematised knowledge of any subject of intellectual inquiry, we may define jurisprudence as the science of civil law.

Of jurisprudence in this sense there are three kinds— namely, (1) legal exposition, (2) legal history, and (3) the science of legislation. The purpose of the first is to set forth the contents of an actual legal system as existing at any time, whether past or present. The purpose of the second is to set forth the historical process whereby any legal system came to be what it is or was. The purpose of the third is to set forth the law, not as it is or has been, but as it ought to be. It deals not with the past or present of any legal system, but with its ideal future, and with the purposes for which it exists. The complete scientific treatment of any body of law involves the adoption of each of these three methods. The law must be dealt with systematically or dogmatically in respect of its contents, historically in respect of the process of its development, anil critically in respect of its conformity with justice anil the public interest. The first of these methods is that of expository or systematic jurisprudence; the second is that of legal history; while the third pertains to that branch of legal science which, for want of a better name, is commonly termed the science of legislation.


Jurisprudence or the theory of law (1902)