The concept of law expounded by jurists in different ages and at different times, their varying approaches to the science of law, viz., the philosophical, political, religious, ethical and economic approaches to law; or, for that matter, Hans Kelsen’s pure theory of law which envisages that a theory of law must be free from ethics, politics, sociology, history, etc.; determination of the sources of law and its purpose and ends, etc. all form the subject-matter of legal theory or legal philosophy.
The term ‘legal’, according to Chambers’ Twentieth Century Dictionary, means “pertaining to, or according to law”; and the term ‘theory’ means “an explanation or system of anything ; an exposition of the abstract principles of a science or art.” Legal theory, may, therefore, be defined as the e-position of the abstract principles of the science of law, or a systematic study and analysis of law in all its bearings.
Relation of Legal Theory with Philosophy and Political Science:
Friedman has explained the relation of legal theory with Philosophy and Political Science in his inimitable language as under: “All systematic thinking about legal theory is linked at one end with philosophy and, at the other end, with political theory.
Sometimes the starting-point is philosophy, and political ideology plays a secondary part as in the theories of the German classical metaphysicians or the Neo-Kantians. Sometimes the starting-point is political ideology, as in the legal theories of Socialism and Fascism.
Sometimes theory of knowledge and political ideology are welded into one coherent system, where the respective shares of the two are not easy to disentangle, as in the scholastic system or in Hegel’s philosophic system.
But all legal theory must contain elements of Philosophy man’s reflections in the universe and gain its colour and specific content from political theory the ideas entertained on the best form of society. For all thinking about the end of law is based on conceptions of man both as thinking individual and as a political being.”