Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2005


Legal doctrine, Legal thought, Technical legal devices, Legal instrumentalism, Private international law


Conflict of Laws | Law and Society | Legal History | Political Science | Political Theory | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This article urges humanistic legal studies to take the technical dimensions of law as a central focus of inquiry. Using archival and ethnographic investigations into developments in American Conflict of Laws doctrines as an example, and building on insights in the anthropology of knowledge and in science and technology studies that focus on technical practices in scientific and engineering domains, it aims to show that the technologies of law - an ideology that law is a tool and an accompanying technical aesthetic of legal knowledge - are far more central and far more interesting dimensions of legal practice than humanists have often conceded. The article's concrete focus is the nature of relations of means and ends in the Realist Revolution, as exemplified by the field of Conflicts, and the quiet but fundamental transformation of the character of those relations in mid and late-twentieth century legal knowledge.

Publication Citation

Published in: Buffalo Law Review, vol. 53, no. 3 (Summer 2005).