OSU Navigation Bar

The Ohio State University

Moritz College of Law

Moritz Home Page

Moritz College of Law

Moritz College of Law


Moritz Law  /  Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

The study of jurisprudence seeks to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, legal reasoning, legal systems, and legal institutions. Early jurisprudential studies focused on the first principles of the natural law, civil law, and the law of nations. Today, general jurisprudence addresses fundamental questions structuring our legal system, including: how do we know what the law is? What are the proper sources and purposes of law? What is the relationship between law and justice? What is the source of one's duty to obey the law?

A familiarity with jurisprudence provides students with an ability to analyze, explain, classify, and criticize schools of thought in law. Legal theory courses also may examine one or more of a variety of intellectual traditions that have helped to shape the law: natural law, natural rights theory, legal positivism, Marxism, formalism, legal realism, legal pragmatism, critical legal studies, critical race theory, feminist legal theory, law and economics, postmodern theories of law, among others. Courses also may study the roots and application of particular legal concepts in judicial decision-making (e.g., liberty, equality, neutrality, rationality, choice of law).

The study of law and legal and institutions is further enhanced through the perspectives of several disciplines, including economics, political science, philosophy, sociology, history, psychology, and criminal justice. At Moritz, the Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies is committed to the promotion of interdisciplinary research, teaching, and public outreach designed to shed light on the nature and operation of law and legal institutions, as well as the effects of law on society and culture. The center brings numerous speakers and programs to the College each year.

Course Sampling for Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

  • Conflict of Laws
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Gender and the Law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Law and Economics
  • Law, History, and Philosophy