Free law (Freirechtsschule) was a theory of adjudication in early twentieth century German-Austrian jurisprudence that demanded liberation from the thendominant rule positivism and called for greater judicial freedom and creativity. It was not an established “school,” although the German term literally translates as school and is sometimes expressed as a “movement.” Rather free law was a loose association of thinkers and ideas. These ideas were closely related to similar approaches in other countries, especially in France and the United States. Yet, because there were also significant differences between these various movements, one should not treat them as identical.

Philosophical Context

At the very beginning of the twentieth century, the prevailing view in Western jurisprudence, especially in Germany and Austria, regarded law as an autonomous, complete, and logical ...

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