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Thick and Thin Concepts in Law

Topham, Emma (2016) Thick and Thin Concepts in Law. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:69464)

Language: English
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The single aim of this thesis can be stated clearly: to argue for the use and usefulness of thick and thin concepts within law. The distinction between thick and thin concepts - recently popularized in analytic philosophy - has in the last two decades migrated from its point of origin in meta-ethics to other areas of philosophy and now law. My contention is that whilst use of the distinction within law is welcome, legal deployment of the distinction has been haphazard, with the idea left vague and ambiguous.

Although the lack of clarity within the legal literature could be explained by the infancy of these ideas within legal discourse, the imprecision and ambiguity that results has undermined the juristic value of the central distinction for law. In particular I note the lack of any attention at all within the legal literature to the question of whether normative and descriptive aspects of thick concepts are capable of being separated - even though this controversy has dominated the philosophical literature. However, my criticism of the legal deployment of thick and thin is not restricted to this idea alone. Failure to investigate (or mention) the several issues I identify has, I argue, seen opportunities missed for the gainful use of the distinction in law, with my thesis focusing, in illustration, on the value to be gained through such analysis in the areas of jurisprudence and legal education. I select these two areas because they ably demonstrate the opportunities that I contend exist, and also because their scope, from theoretical analysis to educational practice, serves notice that these insights might reasonably range over a wider field in law too.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Pethick, Stephen
Thesis advisor: Kirchin, Simon
Uncontrolled keywords: Philosophy of Law Legal Theory Meta-ethics Thick and Thin Concepts Legal Education
Subjects: K Law
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2018 13:23 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 12:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Topham, Emma.

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