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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.

Marjoleine Zieck
Dr. Marjoleine Zieck is Professor of International Refugee Law at the Amsterdam Law School of the University of Amsterdam, and Professor of Public International Law at the Pakistan College of Law, Lahore.

Erik De Bom
Erik De Bom is an intellectual historian and political theorist, who is affiliated as a postdoctoral researcher to the Institute of Philosophy (KU Leuven). He specializes in early modern political thought (esp. sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) and normative political theory (esp. with regard to the European Union). Among his research interests are questions related to social justice, sovereignty, boundaries and migration.

Thomas Riesthuis
Thomas Riesthuis is a PhD candidate at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Tamar de Waal
Tamar de Waal is a PhD candidate legal and political theory at the Paul Scholten Centre, University of Amsterdam (Law Faculty).
Article

Access_open Religion Ain’t Sacrosanct

How to Fight Obsolete Accounts of Religious Freedom

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2015
Keywords Hobby Lobby, Hosanna-Tabor, tolerance-leaning liberalism, equality-leaning liberalism
Authors Roland Pierik
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper is largely an endorsement and a further elaboration of Cohen’s critical discussion of the Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor cases and the conceptual overstretch of religious freedom they embody. I disagree with Cohen, however, on the proper interpretation of this debate. Cohen construes the ominous Court cases as an anti-liberal attack on the liberal state order. My main thesis is that the root of this dispute can be traced back to a fault line within liberalism between a more tolerance-leaning and a more equality-leaning tradition. I argue that the ominous cases are instances of the tolerance-leaning tradition in liberalism, which once was characteristic of the liberal tradition. Still, I agree with Cohen that this tradition should be rejected because it reverts to an obsolete interpretation of religious freedom that defends unwarranted privileges for certain groups that are out of sync with the egalitarian underpinnings of contemporary liberal political orders.


Roland Pierik
Roland Pierik is Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam Law School.

    In her reply to critics, Jean Cohen responds to some of the main criticisms and remarks raised by the respondents.


Professor Jean L. Cohen
Jean L. Cohen is the Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Political Thought and Contemporary Civilization at the Department of Political Science of Columbia University (New York) and will be the Emile Noel Fellow at the Jean Monet Center of the NYU Law School from January till June 2016.

Stefan Rummens
Stefan Rummens is Professor of Moral Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy of the KU Leuven, Belgium.

Roland Pierik
Roland Pierik is Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam Law School.
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