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Discussion

Access_open Do We Want 'More or Fewer' Prosecutions of Opinions? The Geert Wilders Trial 2.0

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Geert Wilders, hate speech, freedom of opinion, District Court of The Hague, conviction
Authors Jogchum Vrielink
Author's information

Jogchum Vrielink
Jogchum Vrielink is a guest professor at the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en droit constitutionnel, Université Saint-Louis (Brussels) and at the Faculty of Canon Law, University of Leuven.

Ph.D. Raf Geenens
Raf Geenens is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven.

MA Nora Timmermans
Nora Timmermans is PhD Research Fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) at the Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, University of Leuven.

    This article presents an account of sovereignty as a concept that signifies in jural terms the nature and quality of political relations within the modern state. It argues, first, that sovereignty is a politico-legal concept that expresses the autonomous nature of the state’s political power and its specific mode of operation in the form of law and, secondly, that many political scientists and lawyers present a skewed account by confusing sovereignty with governmental competence. After clarifying its meaning, the significance of contemporary governmental change is explained as one that, in certain respects, involves an erosion of sovereignty.


Martin Loughlin
Martin Loughlin is Professor of Public Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science and EURIAS Senior Fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (FRIAS).

    This article investigates and classifies the different meanings of the term sovereignty. What exactly do we try to convey when using the words “sovereign” or “sovereignty”? I will argue that, when saying that X is sovereign, we can mean five different things: it can mean that X holds the capacity to force everyone into obedience, that X makes the laws, that the legal and political order is created by X, that X holds the competence to alter the basic norms of our legal and political order, or that X is independently active on the international stage. These different usages of the term are of course related, but they are distinct and cannot be fully reduced to one another.


Raf Geenens
Raf Geenens is an assistant professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven.

    This article uses the rise of referendum democracy to highlight the tenacity of modern nationalism in Western Europe. The proliferation of direct democracy around the world raises important questions about the health of representative democracy. The paper offers a theoretical re-evaluation of the role of the referendum, using the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence to challenge some of the traditional democratic criticisms of popular democracy. The final part of the paper addresses the specific application of referendums in the context of sub-state nationalism, addressing what might be called `the demos question'. This question was addressed by the Supreme Court in Canada in the Quebec Secession Reference but has also been brought to the fore by the Scottish reference and the unresolved issue of self-determination in Catalonia.


Stephen Tierney
Stephen Tierney is Professor of Constitutional Theory at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law.

    This article challenges the assumption, widespread in European constitutional discourse, that ‘national identity’ and ‘constitutional identity’ can be used interchangeably. First, this essay demonstrates that the conflation of the two terms lacks grounding in a sound theory of legal interpretation. Second, it submits that the requirements of respect for national and constitutional identity, as articulated in the EU Treaty and in the case law of certain constitutional courts, respectively, rest on different normative foundations: fundamental principles of political morality versus a claim to State sovereignty. Third, it is argued that the Treaty-makers had good reasons for writing into the EU Treaty a requirement of respect for the Member States’ national identities rather than the States’ sovereignty, or their constitutional identity.


Elke Cloots
Elke Cloots is post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Government and Law, University of Hasselt.

    Legal and sociological theories of sovereignty disagree about the role of legal and social matters in grounding state power. This paper defends a constructivist view, according to which the constitution is a judgment of practical reason. The paper argues that a constitution sets out a comprehensive institutional architecture of social life in terms of principles and official roles that are necessary for any legitimate scheme of social cooperation to exist. It follows that legal and sociological theories of sovereignty capture only part of the truth of sovereignty. Legal reasoning engages with political power, but it is not determined by it. There is no causal chain between power and validity, as suggested by the legal positivists. The relation between power and law is interpretive, not causal. It follows that the circularity of law and the constitution, namely the fact that the law makes the constitution and the constitution makes the law, is not a vicious circle. It is part of an ordinary process of deliberation.


Pavlos Eleftheriadis
Pavlos Eleftheriadis is Associate Professor of Law and Fellow in Law at Mansfield College, University of Oxford.
Article

Access_open The Justification of Basic Rights

A Discourse-Theoretical Approach

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Basic rights, Right to justification, Discourse theory, Non-domination, Kant
Authors Professor Rainer Forst
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this paper, I suggest a discourse theory of basic legal rights that is superior to rival approaches, such as a will-based or an interest-based theory of rights. Basic rights are reciprocally and generally justifiable and binding claims on others (agents or institutions) that they should do (or refrain from doing) certain things determined by the content of these rights. We call these rights basic because they define the status of persons as full members of a normative order in such a way that they provide protection from severe forms of legal, political and social domination. The very ground of these rights is the status of persons as free and equal normative authorities within the order they are subject to. In other words, these rights are grounded in a fundamental moral right to justification.


Professor Rainer Forst
Rainer Forst is professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.
Article

Access_open The Justification of Basic Rights

A Response to Forst

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Basic rights, Justification, Kant
Authors Glen Newey PhD
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper responds to Rainer Forst’s article ‘The Justification of Basic Rights’. I argue that Forst's main thesis is difficult to pin down, partly because it is formulated in significantly distinct ways at numerous points. I offer a possible formulation of the argument but note that this encapsulates a fallacy; I further argue that his inference of the basic rights seems to imply an over-moralisation of social life and that his argument does not distinguish rights with discretionary and non-discretionary content. Then I query Forst’s claim that a right to justification is a condition of engaging in justificatory discourse. This leads to the conclusion that what goes into the process of justification, including who figures in the discursive community, are irreducibly political questions, whose answers cannot be convincingly specified antecedently by a form of moral legislation. I argue that actual discursive processes allow for considerably more contingency and contextual variability than Forst’s construction acknowledges. This extends, as I suggest in conclusion, to the idea that content can be specified via the Kantian notion that acceptability requires the ‘containment’ of an actor's ends by another, such as an affected party.


Glen Newey PhD
Glen Newey is professor of Political Philosophy and Ethics at Leiden University.
Editorial

Access_open Rainer Forst: The Justification of Basic Rights

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Authors Bertjan Wolthuis, Elaine Mak and Lisette ten Haaf
Author's information

Bertjan Wolthuis
Bertjan Wolthuis is assistant professor at the Department of Legal Theory and Legal History, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Elaine Mak
Elaine Mak is professor of Jurisprudence at the Institute of Constitutional, Administrative Law and Legal Theory, Utrecht University

Lisette ten Haaf
Lisette ten Haaf is PhD candidate at the Department of Legal Theory and Legal History, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Article

Access_open On the Justification of Basic Rights

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Basic rights, Right to justification, Discourse theory, Considered judgements, Philosophical methodology
Authors Associate Professor Laura Valentini
AbstractAuthor's information

    In his thought-provoking article, Rainer Forst develops a discourse-theoretical approach to the justification of basic rights, and argues that it is superior to interest-based and autonomy-based views. I cast doubt on the superiority of the discourse-theoretical approach. I suggest that, on reflection, the approach suffers from the same difficulties that Forst believes undermine rival views. My discussion raises broader questions about what desiderata a good justification of basic rights should satisfy.


Associate Professor Laura Valentini
Laura Valentini is associate professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Article

Access_open What Does it Mean to Justify Basic Rights?

Reply to Düwell, Newey, Rummens and Valentini

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Authors Professor Rainer Forst
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this paper, I reply to the four comments on my paper ‘The Justification of Basic Rights: A Discourse-Theoretical Approach’ given by Laura Valentini, Marcus Düwell, Stefan Rummens and Glen Newey.


Professor Rainer Forst
Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.
Article

Access_open Frankfurt Goes Kantian – But How Does It Work?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Human dignity, Transcendental arguments, Discourse ethics, Kantian ethics, Human rights
Authors Prof. Dr. Marcus Düwell
AbstractAuthor's information

    The paper discusses Forst’s discourse- theoretical adaption of the Kantian heritage. If Forst sees a Kantian concept of human dignity as the basis of his approach, he cannot rely on Habermas’ (quasi-)transcendental argument. It is furthermore questionable why Forst proposes that the content of human rights can only be determined in a procedural way. An alternative would be to determine the content from the normative starting point of human dignity.


Prof. Dr. Marcus Düwell
Marcus Düwell is professor of Philosophical Ethics and director of the Ethics Institute, Utrecht University.
Article

Access_open Two Sides of the Same Coin

Unpacking Rainer Forst’s Basic Right to Justification

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Authors Stefan Rummens
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper makes two comments on Rainer Forst’s keynote contribution. It argues, first, that three important distinctions introduced by Forst are, in fact, all different versions of the more primary distinction between the a priori reconstruction of basic rights by philosophers and the discursive construction of basic rights by citizens. It proposes, secondly, an alternative discourse-theoretical reconstruction which makes a distinction between the basic right to justification and the basic right to choose your own ends as two different but inseparable rights – two sides of the same coin – which jointly provide the moral ground for our basic rights as citizens.


Stefan Rummens
Stefan Rummens is professor of Moral Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy of KU Leuven.

    In this article I develop a political realist notion of public reason. It may be thought that a notion of public reason is simply incompatible with the position of the political realist. But this article claims that a realist notion of public reason, different from the familiar political liberal idea of public reason, can be reconstructed from ancient texts on rhetoric and dialectic, particularly Aristotle's. The specification of this notion helps us understand the differences between contemporary liberal and realist positions.


Bertjan Wolthuis
Bertjan Wolthuis is Assistant Professor of Legal Theory at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Ronald Tinnevelt
Ronald Tinnevelt is hoofddocent rechtsfilosofie aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.

    This paper interprets the presumption of innocence as a conceptual antidote for sacrificial tendencies in criminal law. Using Girard’s philosophy of scapegoat mechanisms and sacrifice as hermeneutical framework, the consanguinity of legal and sacrificial order is explored. We argue that some legal concepts found in the ius commune’s criminal system (12th-18th century), like torture, infamy, or punishment for mere suspicion, are affiliated with scapegoat dynamics and operate, to some extent, in the spirit of sacrifice. By indicating how these concepts entail more or less flagrant breaches of our contemporary conception of due process molded by the presumption of innocence, an antithesis emerges between the presumption of innocence and sacrificial inclinations in criminal law. Furthermore, when facing fundamental threats like heresy, the ius commune’s due process could be suspended. What emerges in this state of exception allowing for swift and relentless repression, is elucidated as legal order’s sacrificial infrastructure.


Rafael Van Damme
Rafael Van Damme is PhD-student in philosophy.

Wouter de Been
Wouter de Been is in 2005 cum laude gepromoveerd bij Willem Witteveen aan de Tilburg Law School met een proefschrift over het Amerikaanse rechtsrealisme. Zijn proefschrift is in 2008 gepubliceerd bij de Stanford University Press onder de titel Legal Realism Regained. Hij was co-redacteur en co-auteur van de bundel Crossroads in New Media, Identity and Law, die in 2015 werd uitgebracht door Palgrave, en co-redacteur van de bundel Facts and Norms in Law, die in 2016 zal uitkomen bij Edward Elgar.

Leila Faghfouri Azar
Leila Faghfouri Azar (LL.M., M.A.) is a post-graduate candidate in Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford, Faculty of Law.

    This paper provides a dialectical-historical description of the EU's constitutional discourse. It is argued that the early Community's member state blind principle of justice implied the notion of a European political community and led to the establishment of fair procedures for decision making. This coming of age of an encompassing European constitutional narrative of justice and fairness prompted the question of the demarcation between the political role of the European political community and that of member states' political communities. The answer proved to be subsidiarity. However, subsidiarity has introduced national conceptions of justice in the Union's constitutional discourse, at the risk of making European justice dependent on national conceptions of justice.


Dries Cools
Dries Cools works at the National Bank of Belgium and holds a Master of Laws and a Master in Philosophy of the KU Leuven and an LL.M. of Harvard Law School.
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