Limits and Possibilities of Interdisciplinary Research into Law
A Comparison of Pragmatist and Positivist Views
Intro: To a growing extent, legal scholars seem to be dissatisfied with established disciplinary boundaries and turn to other disciplines, such as sociology (Cotterrell 2006), psychology (Wagenaar, Van Koppen & Crombag 1993), philosophy (Alexy 2003), economics (Posner 2007) and even literature studies (White 1985), for inspiration. In law faculties all over the world multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research groups are operative, such as the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program at the University of California, Berkeley, or the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University. In the hope of increasing their chances to acquire a grant, applicants nowadays try to cut a dash with promises of combining insights from many different sources (Vick 2004, 171). One may wonder who will undertake the important but time-consuming task of analysing and classifying the existing body of legal norms in the future, when legal scholars are getting more and more reluctant to do so. However exciting these new research directions may appear, a fundamental question which deserves more attention is: What are the limits and possibilities of interdisciplinary research into law? Can concepts and methods from one discipline directly be transplanted into another discipline? What is lost and what is gained when insights from different origins are combined? In this article, we want to explore what might make interdisciplinary research possible, on the one hand, and what makes it difficult or even impossible, on the other hand.