The Introduction to Law that you are now holding is special in the sense that it introduces students to law in general and not to the law of one specific jurisdiction. It has been written with two purposes in mind. In the first place, this book is meant to be used in the course Introduction to Law of the Maastricht European Law School. This course aims to provide law students with global knowledge of the basic legal concepts, elementary philosophy of law, and the main fields of law. Since the European Law School does not exclusively focus on the law of one particular European jurisdiction, there is need for an introductory course that also abstracts from the law of specific jurisdictions.
Introduction to Law
In the second place, and possibly more importantly, this book reflects a special way of looking at legal education. We believe that it is of crucial importance for lawyers to be aware of the different ways in which societal problems can be solved and to be able to argue about the advantages and disadvantages of different legal solutions. Being a lawyer involves, on this view, being able to reason like a lawyer, even more than having detailed knowledge of particular sets of rules. The present Introduction to Law reflects this view by paying explicit attention to the functions of rules and to ways of reasoning about the relative qualities of alternative legal solutions. Where ‘positive’ law is discussed, the emphasis is on the legal questions that must be addressed by a field of law and on the different kinds of solutions that have been adopted by—for instance—the common law and the civil law tradition. The law of specific jurisdictions is mainly discussed by way of illustration of a possible answer to, for instance, the question when the existence of a valid contract is assumed.