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Conscience: Reflections around Radbruch

Room 111 Birmingham Law School
Arts and Law, Research
Wednesday 22nd February 2012 (12:30-14:00)

If you wish to attend please contact Dr Anastasia Vakulenko at

Staff Research Seminar: Professor Roger Cotterrell (Queen Mary, London)


Many different kinds of professionals work with law, but often they seek to use law for particular governmental or private purposes, or they focus on some specific aspects of its creation, interpretation or application, or they study it for its interest judged by criteria that are given by fields of scholarly practice outside it. Is there a special significance for a role exclusively concerned with analysing, protecting and enhancing the general well-being or worth of law as a practical idea? This paper argues that such a role is important. Building on Gustav Radbruch’s juristic thought, it asks how that role could be elaborated and how a professional responsibility for discharging it might be envisaged. Many professionals concerned with law adopt such a role incidentally or intermittently, but it needs more prominence and clear demarcation. The paper suggests that it might be seen as the specialised role of the jurist, treated as a particular kind of legal professional. The term ‘jurist’ would then have not just an honorific connotation. It would indicate a Weberian ‘pure’ type that may approximate some current understandings of ‘juristic’ practice; but it would also identify a normative ideal – something intrinsically valuable. Seen in this way the jurist is one who assumes a certain unique responsibility for law.

Discussant:  Professor Gordon Woodman


  • Staff Research Seminars take place at 1pm in the Senior or Junior Common Room, Birmingham Law School
  • A sandwich lunch and a glass of wine will be provided from 12:30 pm
  • Postgraduate students and academic staff are welcome to attend.

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