In the previous chapter I used the term ‘law’ exclusively in the sense of a scientific law. That is, roughly speaking, as a descriptive statement of coherence in the behaviour of real-world entities that has been derived by inductive reasoning from observations. But it is convenient at this stage to interrupt the discussion of Comte’s thesis to note that ‘law’ also has a juridical sense. This, again roughly speaking, is the sense of an authoritative prescription governing or authorizing conduct. In every language that I know there is a single term reasonably equivalent to ‘law’ that similarly encompasses both the scientific and juridical senses. Moreover, in all these languages the juridical sense was conceptually and linguistically prior to the scientific, by many centuries.
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