This essay draws on the form and spirit of Vico's On the Study Methods of Our Time to comment on intellectual and institutional approaches to U.S. legal studies today. It compares rhetoric to the many disciplines—philosophy, economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, poetry, and history—that take law as their subject matter. It argues that law is only partly understood by those who characterize it as command or as morality, as coercive system or as system of rules. It is only partly understood by those who reject law-on-the-books in favor of the empirical study of social behavior. It argues instead that attending to the speech acts of law, and in particular the speech act of claiming, is crucial to understanding law. The essay also shows how current aids to learning in institutions of higher education transform the ways one can know and participate in law. Contemporary educational methods embed students and faculty in an administrative system of service use and provision that epitomizes the ways today's legal subjects participate more broadly in neo-liberal polities.

Included in

Law Commons