Jurisprudence

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Not an easy term to define, 'jurisprudence' is used in a number of different ways. First, it is used to denote the study of law in the abstract. In this sense, jurisprudence is not the study of any actual law or system of laws, but of features that legal systems have in common, or what distinguishes one system from another. Second, it means the philosophy of law. Used in this sense, students of jurisprudence set out to answer fundamental questions about the nature of law. What distinguishes a law from a custom? What are human rights? What does it mean, to have a 'duty'? Third, it denotes a particular theory of law, set out by a particular commentator or group. It is this sense that is usual meant by a person writing about, for example, 'Austian jurisprudence' or 'utilitarian jurisprudence'.

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