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Criteria for a Theory About Law (with Harold D. Lasswell), 44 Southern California Law Review 362 (1971)


In many areas of inquiry about social process today scholars are engaged in creating comprehensive and well-articulated frames of reference—"general orientations" or "conceptual maps"—designed to guide and assist in the conduct of studies. Different scholars in different areas seek of course to serve many different intellectual functions or purposes through this creation of new and more effective theory, but in a burgeoning literature, certain broad purposes appear with high frequency:

the identification of the scholar or observer in relation to the events being observed, with specification of his standpoint and purposes;

the delineation of relevant foci for inquiry, with location of the particular events being subjected to inquiry in the larger context of events with which they interact;

the specification of a range of intellectual tasks pertinent to inquiry about any aspect of social process, including: clarification of goals, description of trends, analysis of conditions, projection of future developments, and invention and evaluation of alternatives;

the development of dependable and economic procedures for performing the intellectual tasks regarded as relevant; and

the postulation and explicit disclosure of the comprehensive goal values assumed in, or sought to be served by, inquiry.

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