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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

11 - Legal Theory in the Scottish Enlightenment


The legal theory of the Scottish Enlightenment is marked by the engagement of the legal profession generally in theorizing, with a strong interest in history and law, leading on to investigations of a proto-anthropological and proto–sociological nature. This led to a move away from an emphasis on legislation to one on development of the law through the formulation of new rules through the decision of specific cases. The legal theorizing of the Scottish Enlightenment did not lead to codification projects, but favoured piecemeal incremental reform of the law through the operation of the courts in the elaboration of law in their decisions and opinions.