The Term Species in Justinian’s Digest

Against the Object of a ‘General’ Jurisprudence

  • Edward Mussawir Griffith University
Keywords: species, Roman law, Justinian's Digest, casuistry, jurisprudence


This paper studies the meaning of the term species in Justinian’s Digest.  It considers the uniqueness to the jurisprudential meaning of this concept in the works of the classical Roman jurists and how this meaning rivals that of the theory of forms derived from dialectical and classificatory methods found in Greek philosophy.  The paper, offering a reading of fragments of the Digest, argues that the word species refers there to the product of a casuistic approach to jurisprudence, interested in the ‘juridical morphology’ of cases as well as objects.  Such species are shown to ‘repeal’ rather than reproduce the taxonomy of general laws and generic classes, pursuing a thought that is at odds with the aim of a ‘general’ jurisprudence.  It is hoped that this paper may help point to new approaches to studying the relationship between legal institution and the life sciences, drawing attention to the limitation for legal thought in a dominant biological understanding of the species-concept.

How to Cite
Mussawir, E. (2022). The Term Species in Justinian’s Digest. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 15(41), 47-85. Retrieved from