Beyond Positivism: A Theological Perspective

Frank S. Alexander, Beyond Positivism: A Theological Perspective, 20 Ga. L. Rev. 1089 (Summer 1986).

From the author's introduction: Contemporary American legal scholars who oppose positivism have not generally attempted to set forth in any systematic way their own theories of human nature. They have sometimes discussed questions relating to individuality, to community, or to the pur- posive nature of existence, but they have generally neglected at least one of these three topics. To illustrate this, and to explore its implications, I have chosen three examples. The first, Philip Soper, while offering a strong concept of individuality, develops only a weak concept of community, and largely ignores the concept of purpose. The second, Michael Perry, offers a strong concept of community but a weak and undifferentiated concept of individuality, and an even weaker sense of purpose. Lon Fuller, in contrast to the other two, develops each of these three concepts, but his concept of community is abstract and he fails to give substantive content to his concept of purpose. Because of its general weakness in the sphere of ontology, contemporary American legal thought--nonpositivist as well as positivist--would benefit greatly from theology. Theology undertakes as one of its major pursuits an inquiry into the nature of individual and collective being. The theological concepts of creation, covenant, and redemption as expressed in the Judaic-Christian tradition are directly related to, and indeed have helped to form, our assumptions concerning the nature of the individual person and of the community.

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