Pramudya A. Oktavinanda

Dissertation title: 
Interpreting Immutable Legal Texts: The Posnerian Pragmatism of Islamic Law

An Indonesian corporate & securities lawyer with a deep passion in Law & Economics, legal interpretation, and Islamic legal theory. My dissertation research is focused on the application of economic theory in understanding and interpreting immutable legal provisions.

My main purpose of research is to answer one of the most important questions in theory of legal interpretation, namely, what is the best way to interpret immutable legal texts that hold supreme authority in a jurisdiction, such as the Constitution of the United States, or in the case of Islamic legal system, the Qur'an? Since these texts could survive for a considerable amount of time due to the difficulties or even impossibility in amending them, can we truly understand and apply them as they are all the time without any drawbacks? Will their meaning always stay the same, and if not, what kind of meaning should be prioritized in interpretation? Will the texts ever be sufficient to capture the never ending challenge of future legal problems?

In this case, I am using the legal texts of the Qur'an and Hadiths as a case study. Both sources hold supreme authority in Islamic legal system, and their texts are immutable, having survived for almost 1,500 years. The rich history of Islamic law and the complexities faced by Islamic legal scholars in reconciling the conflict between constant texts and social needs provide an excellent comparison with the challenges faced by modern theories of legal interpretation discussed in the United States. Furthermore, they also provide a unique opportunity to test how laws derived from a single source claimed to be perfect, God, cope with constraints and welfare issues. Are these laws principled or pragmatist?

By analyzing various key stories of the Qur’an and Hadiths and how their laws were structured, I intend to demonstrate that Islamic law is the epitome of practicality, placing the people’s overall welfare as the most important factor in designing laws, and therefore, establishing the first ever religious justification for Law & Economics and a comprehensive guideline in dealing with immutable legal texts based on welfare maximization principle.

I recieved my LLB from the Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia in 2005, graduating as its best outstanding student, and my LLM from the University of Chicago Law School in 2012. I have 10 years of working experience as a corporate lawyer at the biggest law firm in Indonesia, and I am specializing in complex capital market, securities, infrastructure and M&A transactions (involving international offerings under Rule 144 A and Reg S of the US 1933 Securities Act). Currently, I am a fellow-in-residence at the Law School.

CV and Publications: 

Contact info

The University of Chicago Law School 1111 East 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637