Alan Calnan (Southwestern Law School) has posted Systematizing Social Legal Theory on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Social Legal Theory (SLT) has been heralded as the “third pillar” of jurisprudence, offering a social scientific alternative to the rational relativity of legal positivism and the moral determinism of natural law. Yet recently SLT’s most ardent champion, Professor Brian Tamanaha, appears to have broken ranks. Assuming a “holistic” perspective, Tamanaha now contends that law “emerges” from both social and naturalistic influences. This move not only undermines SLT, it seemingly transforms that view into the existing theory of jurisilience, which uses the holistic epistemology of consilience to provide a bio-socio-cultural account of law’s essence. Despite outward appearances, however, these approaches are far from identical. Unlike the revamped version of SLT, which is ontologically constrained and conflicted, jurisilience explains law’s emergence through systems science and cutting-edge sociology. It shows that law is not a simple assemblage of social and/or natural forces. Instead, it is a complex information network of interdependent “jurisystems.” Grounded in our natural need for homeostasis, human legality originates in our genetic and neurobiological systems, scales up to our normative social systems, and becomes externalized as a supreme system of formal law. Once entrenched, law does not remain stagnant, but continuously coordinates human conflicts, relieves social stress, and reinforces social bonds. Over time, law’s dynamism changes social behavior and cultural memory, initiating a cycle of epigenetics and gene-culture coevolution that renews our biological disposition for legality. Given law’s systemic nature, any socio-centric jurisprudence now seems obsolete. The fact is, jurisilience and jurisystems do not just systematize SLT; they systematize SLT right out of existence.