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The Relation of Law to Social Process: Trends in Theories About Law (with Harold D. Lasswell), 37 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 465 (1976)


From an anthropological perspective, authoritative decisions are inextricable components of social process: such decisions are made in response to claims about particular interactions or events in social process; they are affected by a wide variety of interdependent variables in the context of interaction; they project a future distribution of values among participants in social process; and they have varied impacts through time upon a succeeding flow of events or value distributions. When considered in interaction with naked power decisions and choices within the civic domain, it is, furthermore, the aggregate flow of authoritative decisions in a community which shapes a comprehensive public order, in the sense of major value distributions, of that community. Even a theory about law which conceives law in terms of rules, or is primarily concerned about its transempirical assumptions, must, when it seeks to apply its rules, or transempirical assumptions, to interrelations between people, make some empirical reference, however implicit or vague, to this "big, blooming, buzzing, confusion" which is the larger context.

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