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Jurisprudence

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

  • What is it?

Like the study of the body is called Anatomy and mathematics is the abstract science of numbers, in the same manner, Jurisprudence is the study of principles of law. Jurisprudence originated from the Latin term Jurisprudentia and it is made up of 2 words, that are Juris, which means legal or law and prudent, which means the study or knowledge. In other words, Jurisprudence is the study, analysis and interpretation of legal principles with clearness. It involves the study of legal institutions, legal reasoning and legal systems.

General Jurisprudence which emerged in the 1620s in ancient Rome and India gained a new meaning and a larger scope in the 18th century. Its first mentions were found in Dharmashastra. Jurisprudence has been interpreted and given many names like legal philosophy and Eye of the law. Jurisprudence has no fixed definition. Many prominent jurists have tried to justify the term Jurisprudence according to what they could decipher from this subject.

  • Definitions:

  • Austin: According to him, Jurisprudence is the philosophy of positive law. To grasp this subject, he divided the study of law into 2 classes and those are:

1. General class: This class emphasizes the philosophy of positive law.

2. Particular class: This class emphasizes the science of positive law.

  • Holland: He said that Jurisprudence is the formal science of positive law.

  • Salmond: For a better understanding of this subject, Salmond divided it into 2 senses and those are:

1. Generic sense: Science of Civil Law as a whole.

2. Specific sense: Science of 1st principle of Civil Law.

  • Keetan: According to Keetan, Jurisprudence is the study and systematic arrangement of general principles of law.



  • Nature and Scope:

Jurisprudence not merely analyses the preexisting laws but also set the foundation for the laws which will come into existence in the hereafter. This subject is not codified, i.e. It doesn't have an Act in place for it, unlike the Indian Penal Code,1860 and the Indian Contract Act,1872, which explains Lord Tennyson’s saying that Jurisprudence is a lawless subject of law. Jurisprudence deals with human behaviour which makes this field ever-growing and dynamic because the nature of society is ever-changing. In other words, Jurisprudence has a neverending scope and it gains new meanings according to the altering trends of society which makes it difficult to define this field. Jurisprudence provides answers to multidimensional queries relating to law. It helps lawyers to justify their stance in a disciplined manner. It highlights how the law ought to be practised to ensure peace and order in society. The nature of this field varies from place to place as one act might be considered an offence in one state but might not be in others like betting is legal in the USA but is completely illegal in India (except in horse racing).

  • Importance:

  1. Lawyers and Judges take the help of rules of interpretation provided by Jurisprudence to get a better and clearer understanding of the law.

  2. Through this field, students get to know how the law ought to be implemented and this prepares them for an upright civil life.

  3. As I said earlier, Jurisprudence helps in laying down the basis on which future laws are made.

  4. Socialists and Moralists, both are beneficiaries of this field.

  5. Like English can't be comprehended without English grammar just like that Jurisprudence is the grammar of law and without it, the law can't be apprehended.

  6. Political rights and Legal rights, both are emphasized in this subject and this field specifies a balance between those rights.


  • Relation with other sciences:

  1. Sociology: It is the study of society which comprises people and are made involuntarily by the people as soon as they get born. Jurisprudence is the study of law and how legal principles ought to be implemented and affect society. Hence, Sociology and jurisprudence are interrelated as without knowing the nature of society, the law-making process would not be efficient as the law-making bodies would not know the kind of laws which would suit the condition and circumstances of that society.

  2. Politics: It analyses the principles of government organisation. Jurisprudence helps in ensuring the proper implementation of the law by analysing Political trends and the principles on which government work. Therefore, these 2 fields are connected.

  3. Ethics: It is the science of human manners. Jurisprudence deals with human behaviour and provides principles for the execution of, laws rightfully. The formation of such principles without the study of human conduct is not possible. Furthermore, through the interrelation of these 2 fields, a new branch has emerged which is called Ethical Jurisprudence, which emphasises the normative study of law.

  4. Psychology: It is the science of mentality and behaviour. Jurisprudence is the scientific study of law. Both of these fields share the element of Intention in their study which connects them. More effective laws can be formed with the help of the knowledge of the human intention or in other words, knowing how and why a person has committed or omitted such an act.

  5. Economics: It is the science of wealth. According to Alfred Marshal, “Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.” In other words, it is the study of procurement, consumption and distribution of wealth among the masses. Jurisprudence, through its principles, ensures a fair distribution of that wealth to reduce the gap between rich and poor. It has been analysed that economic factors can be a catalyst for a rise in criminal activities. So to ensure peace and order in society both fields have to be studied in correlation with each other, whereby economics strives to improve the living standard of the people , furthermore discouraging them to commit an offence and jurisprudence helps in the formation of principles of law which ensures order and discipline in society.

  6. History: It is the examination of past occurrences. Jurisprudence is a study which is evergrowing and ever-changing but to ensure proper implementation and formation of such principles, one must first know, how and when jurisprudence originated and its evolution. By analysing past events and mistakes, law-making bodies can improve legal principles and make them a better fit for society's needs. Jurisprudence was not formed in a single day, rather its scope and nature are still changing hence both of these fields are interrelated.

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