Defining Law as a Science or an Art has long been a subject of debate among scholars and legal professionals. Some argue that law is fundamentally a science, emphasizing its systematic and analytical nature.
Defining Law as a Science or an Art: There has been questions in the past and till the present as to the proper field in which law entirely fits into, whether science or art. Well, first of all we will start by defining concepts. The definition of these key concepts will certainly direct us through the right conclusion as to the nature of law.
Meaning of Law
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour in the society.
Law is the norm of conduct in a given state which is also designed to provide proper guidelines and order on behaviour for all citizens and to maintain equity between the three branches of government; legislature, executive and the judiciary.
The absence of law entails the presence of anarchy in the society. The reason for this categorical statement is obvious. There cannot be anything close to an organized society in the absence of law.
For Roscoe Pound, law is a body of principles recognized and enforced by the people in administration of justice.
For J. Salmond, law consists of principles and rules recognized and enforced by courts in administration of justice.
From the definitions above, one can correctly deduce that law is interested in the relationship and conduct of people and the society. The law is for the people and their conduct in the society, and without the people, the law has neither force nor relevance.
Meaning of Science
A simple and complete definition of science is that it is the systematic study of nature. It is systematic in the sense that its study follows a laid down procedure which is observation and experiment to arrive at a verifiable result. The systematic nature of science is generally accepted because it has been proved to be conclusive, and this very characteristic is what renders science predictable and verifiable.
According to Oxford, science is a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject.
Meaning of Art
A simple and complete definition of art is that it is a reflection of life. Art is a means through which life is made meaningful.
Art is the visual representation of a thought or idea.
Is Law a Science Or An Art?
Having defined the key concepts for the purpose of this topic, we can see that certain elements are already implicated and they seem to be clashing with each other. One may choose to categorize law under arts for certain reasons which includes but not limited to the fact that while science is concerned with discovering the truth through s systematic procedure, law is not so concerned. Law is rather concerned with the application of laid down procedure to generate justice.
By way of opposing this view, another may argue that law is very much interested in discovering the truth, even though the pattern through which it arrived at its very end differed materially from that of science. Law in its effort to arrive at the truth can be practically seen it the rules of evidence. Therefore, one may correctly argue that the whole process of law points to the conclusion that law is set to determine the truth while in its drive to attain justice. The law is so much interested in the truth to the extent that the law punishes any person who lies to the cause of justice by a conviction for perjury.
Law in its course to arrive at the truth just like sciences, also follows a systematic procedure. Therefore this view is of the opinion that law has in itself some elements of science. But on the other hand, in order for a field to be considered a science, it seems that all the elements of sciences must be implicated. The elements which include: systematized formula, observation, experiments and empirical method which are verification by means of scientific experimentation. Law certainly did not meet any of these elements, although it seems to have some practices which can be likened to some of the elements of sciences.
Law has something in common with mathematics in that in much way, law is formulaic and systematic. It can also be said that law generally is not concerned with observation of the world. This assertion can be discountenanced with the view that law is very much interested in the society and therefore observes the society. Just that the manner through which it puts the result of its observation into practice and use differed materially from that of science.
Since law employs the use of language, does this make law an art?
Language is an art through which communications are made. Language is simply a manner of expression. The act of expression is simply an art. If law certainly makes use of language, and of course communicates its purpose to the society through the art of expression, does this element on its own make law an art?
Employment of language is an integral aspect of law. This is because; the law is without meaning and effect if without language. The law did not just employ language; it went further to derive its strength, effect and purpose from the language construction. It is from this construction that law reflects the life in it. This is purely an art. But this can be opposed with the view that law cannot be said to be an act solely because it makes use of languages.
Even science makes use of languages too; after all it is from the language that meaning is made out of the processes. Language as an art encompasses all aspects of life and has a considerable quota to the course of human existence. This view seems to have succeeded in discrediting the view of law as an art, but has failed to provide an opposing suggestion apart from the fact that certain elements of science is implicated in law.
The propositions and justifications as to whether or not law is science or art seems to have remained a square peg in a circle as it has refused to fit into a round circle at any of the corners discussed so far. And as we have seen, law has some elements of arts as well as that of science, hence the confusion and the need to draw a clear lie at the first place. Notwithstanding, it seems that it would be safer to conclude that law has certain elements of arts and sciences, than to settle for either without an unadulterated evidence of the required elements of the position settled for.
Another field which we have postponed for consideration is the field of social science. The question remains, whether or not law is a science or art, and we have better adapted instead of adopting the proposition that it is an art or science.
Social science is an umbrella for all the academic fields of study that is concerned with the study of the society and human behaviour. They are scientific disciplines whose subject matter involves human beings and human activity.
Social science being a branch of science studies human interaction between two or more individuals. These behaviours are studied by employment of systematic observation, measurement, experiment and the formulation, testing and modification of hypotheses which is a scientific method.
Social science as a branch of study is fostered by employment of oral and written communication, teamwork, interpersonal, technical, analytical, organizational, critical thinking and problem solving skills which cuts across wide variety of careers.
Branches of social science includes anthropology, economics, history, criminology, communications studies, political science, sociology, psychology, geography, law, linguistics, education and media studies.
Just like every other social science subject, law is more concerned with the society and its behaviour. Law satisfies the societal needs, provides remedies to injuries, protects citizens’ rights and compels people to perform an obligation due to them. Law is manned by social institutions; the judiciary, executive, the legislature and other subsidiary delegates. Just as the society is always subject to change, law is also dynamic in its very nature and seeks to evolve alongside the society through constitutional amendments and repeals.
Law employs the use of logic, and has in itself the elements of social science such as the employment of empirical method, research, observation, theory, methodology and systematization. Just like every other social science subject, law functions to regulate and influence policies and facilitate people to people interaction in the society.
Having considered the concepts of law, science, art and social science and their elements, it seems that law fits more into the circle of the conclusion that law is neither an art nor science but a social science. This is because; law is in consonance with all the elements of social science as so discussed.