Is the law good? How can it be improved?

These questions are frequently addressed, both in traditional doctrinal research and in interdisciplinary legal research. In this article, I elaborate a general argumentative framework for justifying evaluations and recommendations for legislative reform, and I identify the chains of argument for making evaluations and recommendations. This may help researchers to make their arguments explicit and transparent, and then to justify the choices made for each of the steps in the argument. This enables readers – as well as authors – to assess whether the argument’s conclusions are sound and convincing. A key problem in making these arguments concerns the choice of standards for evaluation. I suggest that they can be best understood in terms of the underlying values. In order to make all-things-considered evaluations and normative recommendations, interdisciplinary cooperation between doctrinal, socio-legal, and legal-philosophical researchers is necessary. Therefore, individual researchers will usually have to settle for pro tanto evaluations and recommendations.

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Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie , Forthcoming Erasmus Working Paper Series on Jurisprudence and Socio-Legal Studies
Erasmus School of Law

van der Burg, W. (2017). The Merits of Law: An Argumentative Framework for Evaluative Judgements and Normative Recommendations in Legal Research. Erasmus Working Paper Series on Jurisprudence and Socio-Legal Studies (Vol. No 17–1). Retrieved from