This chapter will help you develop thinking critically about law in relation to:

Having an appreciation of the philosophies of law and jurisprudence;

Thinking critically about different legal perspectives; and

Gaining an understanding for theoretical and methodology sections for analytical essays and dissertations.

The previous chapter considered the question: what is ‘critical thinking’? A wide range of sources (from academic opinions to discussions with law students and teachers) were considered to provide an answer to that question. Succinctly, it was concluded that over the duration of your course, you should be developing your own definition and understanding of what thinking critically about law is. In the meantime, the previous chapter concluded that thinking critically about law involves a two-stage process (which requires understanding and application of knowledge for the first stage, which can be critically analysed, reflected upon and thought creatively about, in the second). As thinking critically about law is an ‘intellectually disciplined process of thought’, part of the process of thinking critically is to consider, appraise or evaluate other people’s ideas. The present chapter moves on to consider how scholars have answered the essential question: what is ‘law’? This involves another important sub-question: what is ‘jurisprudence’?