Jurisprudence and Structural Realism

Kevin Lee, Campbell University School of Law


Some Anglophone legal theorists look to analytic philosophy for core presuppositions. For example, the epistemological theories of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Willard Quine shape the theories of Dennis Patterson and Brian Leiter, respectively. These epistemologies are anti-foundational since they reject the kind of certain grounding that is exemplified in Cartesian philosophy. And, they are coherentist in that they seek to legitimate truth-claims by reference to entire linguistic systems. While these theories are insightful, the current context of information and communication technologies (ICT) has created new informational concepts and issues. As a result, the analytic epistemologies are increasingly challenged by alternative perspectives. One such alternative is Structural Realism (SR), which is influential among the natural sciences, and especially physics. "Informational Structural Realism," (ISR) is a variant of SR that was introduced by Luciano Floridi. Unlike the coherentist theories, ISR promotes examination of the connections among types of information and informational structures. It is an important shift for legal theory today, since the challenges that the ICT presents have to do with pattern recognition across vast domains of diverse data. An informational jurisprudence is now required to understand the issues emerging from the ICT.