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Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

Miftakhul Shodikin

Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

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Introduction to the Philosophy of Law
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Legal Literacy – Introduction to the Philosophy of Law is a field of study that teaches the philosophical concepts underlying law. Legal philosophy is not merely a technical discussion of legal rules, but rather an understanding of the philosophical foundations that shape a legal system.

Introduction to Legal Philosophy provides a theoretical and reflective foundation for law students to understand fundamental questions such as what law is, where it comes from, and how law affects society. Concepts like justice, truth, and ethics are the main focus in the introduction to legal philosophy, offering deep insights into the values that underpin the legal foundations of a society. Through the study of legal philosophy, students can develop critical and analytical thinking skills essential in addressing contemporary legal issues.

Understanding Philosophy

Philosophy (from the Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally meaning “love of wisdom”) is the study of fundamental and general problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was likely first coined by Pythagoras (570–495 BC).

In German and Dutch, it is called “PHILOSOPHIE”, and in English, “PHILOSOPHY”. In Indonesian, it is referred to as “Filsafat or Falsafah”. According to the Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia (KBBI), “Filsafat” means the knowledge and investigation by the mind regarding the nature of all that exists, its causes, origins, and laws.

Understanding the Philosophy of Law

Legal philosophy is a branch of philosophy that delves into philosophical questions related to law. It attempts to understand the nature, purpose, and moral foundations of legal systems and legal concepts. In this sense, legal philosophy opens up space for deep consideration of the essence of law, the moral principles underpinning it, and its social and political implications.

According to Satjipto Rahardjo, legal philosophy addresses the fundamental questions of law. Along these lines, Mahadi states that legal philosophy discusses something in the field of law deeply down to its roots.

Therefore, legal philosophy can be formulated as a view on metaphysical issues and values, not related to the technical elements of law, and starting from a metajuridical perspective, aiming to understand the law in a comprehensive and integral manner.

Position of the Philosophy of Law

The position of legal role as a branch of philosophy focuses more on analyzing and understanding the philosophical concepts that underlie law, rather than providing guidelines or concrete legal rules. Legal philosophy involves the analysis of fundamental legal concepts such as justice, freedom, responsibility, and human rights.

Legal philosophy attempts to answer abstract questions like, “Is the law just?” or “What is the purpose of a legal system?” Furthermore, legal philosophy also discusses the relationship between law and morals. Questions such as, “Does law always reflect morality?” or “How can law influence moral behavior?” are part of the study of legal philosophy.


Thus, Legal Philosophy is a specific philosophy that underlies the science of law, encompassing aspects of ontology, epistemology, and axiology. Legal Philosophy is a branch of Ethical Philosophy that studies law philosophically, where “Law” as the object is studied deeply down to its fundamental core, known as the “nature of law”.

An introduction to legal philosophy attempts to understand and detail the philosophical bases that underpin a society’s legal system. In this context, axiology, ontology, and epistemology become key concepts forming legal philosophy’s foundation.

Axiology is a branch of philosophy that studies values, purposes, and ethics behind the law, discussing rights and justice. Ontology concerns the essence or reality that underpins the existence of law, explaining whether law is objective or subjective.

Epistemology relates to the sources of legal knowledge and how we understand and obtain knowledge about the law.

Familiarity with these three concepts allows for a deeper understanding of the philosophical aspects that form the structure of law and provides a basis for developing relevant and sustainable legal theories.

Schools of Legal Philosophy

In legal philosophy, there are various schools of thought. Some important schools of legal philosophy include:

  • Legal realism, which argues that law is what judges decide.
  • Legal idealism, which argues that law is what should be enforced, regardless of what judges decide.
  • Legal naturalism, which argues that law stems from nature and is universal.
  • Legal positivism, which argues that law originates from the state and is positive.
  • Sociology of law, which argues that law is a product of society and is influenced by social factors.


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