1620s, "knowledge of law," from French jurisprudence (17c.) and directly from Late Latin iurisprudentia "the science of law," from iuris "of right, of law" (genitive of ius; see jurist) + prudentia "knowledge, a foreseeing" (see prudence). Meaning "the philosophy of law" is first attested 1756. Related: Jurisprudential.
The philosophy of law. Jurisprudence implies creating a body of law and methods for interpreting the law, studying the relationships between law and society, and predicting the effects of legal decisions. In the United States, lawmakers, attorneys, scholars, and courts all take an active role in guiding jurisprudence.