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Article

Access_open What does it mean to be ‘illiberal’?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Liberalism, Illiberalism, Illiberal practices, Extremism, Discrimination
Authors Bouke de Vries
AbstractAuthor's information

    ‘Illiberal’ is an adjective that is commonly used by scholars. For example, they might speak of ‘illiberal cultures’, ‘illiberal groups’, ‘illiberal states’, ‘illiberal democracies’, ‘illiberal beliefs’, and ‘illiberal practices’. Yet despite its widespread usage, no in-depth discussions exist of exactly what it means for someone or something to be illiberal, or might mean. This article fills this lacuna by providing a conceptual analysis of the term ‘illiberal practices’, which I argue is basic in that other bearers of the property of being illiberal can be understood by reference to it. Specifically, I identify five ways in which a practice can be illiberal based on the different ways in which this term is employed within both scholarly and political discourses. The main value of this disaggregation lies in the fact that it helps to prevent confusions that arise when people use the adjective ‘illiberal’ in different ways, as is not uncommon.


Bouke de Vries
Bouke de Vries is a postdoctoral research fellow at Umeå University and the KU Leuven.
Article

Access_open Addressing Problems Instead of Diagnoses

Reimagining Liberalism Regarding Disability and Public Health

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Vulerability Theory, Liberalism, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Public Health, Capabilities Approach
Authors Erwin Dijkstra
AbstractAuthor's information

    The public health systems of liberal states systematically fail to meet the goals and obligations of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which aims to facilitate full societal participation and independent life choices by all impaired persons, as well as the unburdening of their private caretakers. This failure does not stem from a lack of money or effort by governments and other societal institutions, but flaws in the anatomy of these systems. As these systems confine institutional assistance to the needs of persons with certain delineated disabilities, they neglect the needs of other persons, whose disabilities do not fit this mould. The responsibility for the latter group thus falls to their immediate social circle. These private caretakers are in turn seldom supported. To remedy this situation, I will present the alternative paradigm of vulnerability theory as the possible foundation for a more inclusive approach to public health.


Erwin Dijkstra
Erwin Dijkstra LLM MA is lecturer and researcher at the Department of Jurisprudence of the Leiden Law School of Leiden University.
Article

Access_open The Obligation of Judges to Uphold Rules of Positive Law and Possibly Conflicting Ethical Values in Context

The Case of Criminalization of Homelessness in Hungary

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Judicial independence, Rule of law, Judicial ethics, Hungary, Criminalization of homelessness
Authors Petra Gyöngyi
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines the tension between the constitutional obligation of judges to uphold rules of positive law and possibly conflicting standards of conduct arising from professional-ethical values. The theoretical analysis will be illustrated by the case of Hungary, an EU member state experiencing rule of law challenges since 2010 and where the 2018-2019 criminalization of homelessness exemplifies the studied tension. Inspired by the theories of Philip Selznick and Martin Krygier, rule of law will be viewed as a value that requires progressive realization and context-specific implementation. By contextualizing the relevant Hungarian constitutional framework with the content of the judicial code of ethics and judicial practice, it will be shown how the legitimate space for Hungarian judges to distance themselves from legislation possibly in conflict with rule of law values is reduced. Theoretical suggestions for addressing such rule of law regressions will be made.


Petra Gyöngyi
Petra Gyöngyi is postdoctoral fellow aan de University of Oslo.
Article

Access_open Religie op het werk?

Over positieve en negatieve godsdienstvrijheid bij private ondernemingen en tendensondernemingen

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2020
Authors Leni Franken and François Levrau
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article we elaborate on the place of religion in the workplace. Does the individual freedom of religion imply that employers must always accommodate the religious claims of employees or can they boast a number of arguments allowing them to legitimately limit that freedom? And, conversely, do employers not also have a right to freedom of religion and a right to formulate certain religious expectations for their employees? In this contribution, we deal with these and related questions from a legal-philosophical perspective. The overall aim is to illustrate the extent to which univocal answers are jeopardized because of conceptual ambiguities. We first make a normative distinction between two strategies (i.e. difference-blind approach and difference-sensitive approach) and subsequently illustrate and elaborate on how and why these strategies can lead to different outcomes in legal cases. We illustrate the extent to which a contextual and proportional analysis can be a way out in theoretical and practical conundrums.


Leni Franken
Leni Franken is senior researcher and teaching assistant at the University of Antwerp.

François Levrau
François Levrau is senior researcher and teaching assistant at the University of Antwerp.
Article

Access_open De blinde vlek in praktijk en discussie rond orgaandonatie

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2020
Keywords organ donation, ethics of organ donation, symbolic nature of the human body, ethics and ritual, symbolic legislation theory
Authors Herman De Dijn
AbstractAuthor's information

    In countries like Belgium and The Netherlands, there seems to be overwhelming public acceptance of transplantation and organ donation. Yet, paradoxically, part of the public refuses post-mortal donation of their own organs or of those of family members. It is customary within the transplantation context to accept the refusal of organ donation by family members “in order to accommodate their feelings”. I argue that this attitude does not take seriously what is really behind the refusal of donation by (at least some) family members. My hypothesis is that even in very secularized societies, this refusal is determined by cultural-symbolic attitudes vis-à-vis the (dead) human body (and some of its parts). The blind spot for this reality, both in the practice of and discussions around organ donation, prevents understanding of what is producing the paradox mentioned.


Herman De Dijn
Herman De Dijn is emeritus hoogleraar wijsbegeerte aan de KU Leuven.
Article

Access_open Personhood and legal status: reflections on the democratic rights of corporations

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2018
Keywords Corporations, democracy, legal personality, personhood, inclusion
Authors Ludvig Beckman
AbstractAuthor's information

    Corporations can have rights but whether they should also have democratic rights depends among other things on whether they are the kind of entities to which the democratic ideal applies. This paper distinguishes four different conceptions of “the person” that can have democratic rights. According to one view, the only necessary condition is legal personality, whereas according to the other three views, democratic inclusion is conditioned also by personhood in the natural sense of the term. Though it is uncontroversial that corporations can be legal persons, it is plausible to ascribe personhood in the natural sense to corporations only if personhood is conceptualized exclusively in terms of moral agency. The conclusion of the paper is that corporations can meet the necessary conditions for democratic inclusion but that it is not yet clear in democratic theory exactly what these conditions are.


Ludvig Beckman
Ludvig Beckman is professor of political science at Stockholm University.
Article

Access_open ‘Should the People Decide?’ Referendums in a Post-Sovereign Age, the Scottish and Catalonian Cases

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords sub-state nationalism, referendums, sovereignty, deliberative democracy, Scottish referendum
Authors Stephen Tierney
AbstractAuthor's information

    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.
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.
Article

Access_open Institutional Religious Accommodation in the US and Europe

Comparative Reflections from a Liberal Perspective

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2015
Keywords European jurisprudence, freedom of religion, religious-based associations, religious accommodation
Authors Patrick Loobuyck
AbstractAuthor's information

    Jean Cohen argues that recent US Supreme Court decisions about institutional accommodation are problematic. She rightly points out that justice and the liberal concept of freedom of consciousness cannot do the work in Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor: what does the work is a medieval political-theological conception of church immunity and sovereignty. The first part of this commentary sketches how the autonomy of churches and religious associations can be considered from a liberal perspective, avoiding the pitfall of the medieval idea of libertas ecclesiae based on church immunity and sovereignty. The second part discusses the European jurisprudence about institutional accommodation claims and concludes that until now the European Court of Human Rights is more nuanced and its decisions are more in line with liberalism than the US Jurisprudence.


Patrick Loobuyck
Patrick Loobuyck is Associate Professor of Religion and Worldviews at the Centre Pieter Gillis of the University of Antwerp and Guest Professor of Political Philosophy at Ghent University.
Article

Access_open Religious Sovereignty and Group Exemptions

A Response to Jean Cohen

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2015
Keywords democracy, exemptions, group rights, religious institutionalism
Authors Jonathan Seglow
AbstractAuthor's information

    This response concurs with Cohen’s critique of the Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor cases but investigates whether religious accommodation might sometimes be justified in the case of institutions and groups (not just individuals). It suggests that exemptions for associations that are recruited to advance state purposes (e.g., in welfare or education) may be more justifiable than where private associations seek to maintain illiberal – for example, discriminatory – rules in line with their religious ethos. Non-democratic associations with a strong religious ethos might in principle enjoy permissible accommodation on the grounds that its members acquiesced to that ethos by joining the association, but only if other conditions are met. Democratic associations with a religious ethos have in principle a stronger claim for accommodation; in practice, however, few religious associations are internally democratic, especially where they seek to preserve illiberal internal rules.


Jonathan Seglow
Jonathan Seglow is Reader in Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Article

Access_open Freedom of Religion, Inc.: Whose Sovereignty?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2015
Keywords accommodation, freedom of religion, political theology, liberalism, liberty of conscience
Authors Jean L. Cohen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article focuses on an expansive conception of religious freedom propagated by a vocal group of American legal scholars – jurisdictional pluralists – often working with well-funded conservative foundations and influencing accommodation decisions throughout the US. I show that the proliferation of ‘accommodation’ claims in the name of church autonomy and religious conscience entailing exemption from civil regulation and anti-discrimination laws required by justice have a deep structure that has little to do with fairness or inclusion or liberal pluralism. Instead they are tantamount to sovereignty claims, involving powers and immunities for the religious, implicitly referring to another, higher law and sovereign than the constitution or the people. The twenty-first century version of older pluralist ‘freedom of religion’ discourses also rejects the comprehensive jurisdiction and scope of public, civil law – this time challenging the ‘monistic sovereignty’ of the democratic constitutional state. I argue that the jurisdictional pluralist approach to religious freedom challenges liberal democratic constitutionalism at its core and should be resisted wherever it arises.


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.
Article

Access_open Group Pluralism versus Group Accommodation

A Commentary on Jean Cohen

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2015
Keywords group pluralism, multiculturalism, religious accommodation
Authors Avigail Eisenberg
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this paper, I sharply distinguish between religious group-based pluralism and religious accommodation, which are each reflected in the cases examined in Jean Cohen’s paper and thereby provide a clearer understanding of different kinds of challenges to protecting religious freedom today and explain how these two approaches sometimes pull interpretations of religious freedom in different directions.


Avigail Eisenberg
Avigail Eisenberg is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria, Canada.
Article

Access_open The Normative Foundation of Legal Orders: A Balance Between Reciprocity and Mutuality

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2014
Keywords reciprocity, mutuality, social morality of duties, legal morality of rights, intergenerational justice
Authors Dorien Pessers PhD
AbstractAuthor's information

    Reciprocity seems to figure as a self-evident normative foundation of legal orders. Yet a clear understanding of the often opaque role that reciprocity plays in this regard demands drawing a conceptual distinction. This article views reciprocity as a social morality of duties, in opposition to mutuality, which concerns a legal morality of rights. In everyday life these two broad categories of human interaction interfere in a dynamic way. They need to be brought into an appropriate balance in legal orders, for the sake of justice. The practical relevance of this conceptual distinction is clarified by the debate about justice between present and future generations. I argue that this debate should be viewed as a debate about the terms of reciprocity rather than relations of mutuality. Acknowledging the deeply reciprocal nature of the relations between past, present and future generations would lead to a more convincing moral theory about intergenerational justice.


Dorien Pessers PhD
Dorien Pessers is Professor of the Legal and Theoretical Foundations of the Private Sphere at the VU University and at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses primarily on the theoretical foundations of the public and private spheres.

Roland Pierik PhD
Article

Access_open Wat is juridisch interactionisme?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2014
Keywords interactionism, Lon Fuller, interactional law, legal pluralism, concept of law
Authors Wibren van der Burg
AbstractAuthor's information

    Two phenomena that challenge theories of law in the beginning of the twenty-first century are the regulatory explosion and the emergence of horizontal and interactional forms of law. In this paper, I develop a theory that can address these two phenomena, namely legal interactionism, a theory inspired by the work of Fuller and Selznick. In a pluralist approach, legal interactionism recognizes both interactional law and enacted law, as well as other sources such as contract. We should aim for a pluralistic and gradual concept of law. Because of this pluralist and gradual character, legal interactionism can also do justice to global legal pluralism and to the dynamic intertwinement of health law and bioethics.


Wibren van der Burg
Wibren van der Burg is Professor of Legal Philosophy and Jurisprudence, Erasmus School of Law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open What Makes Age Discrimination Special? A Philosophical Look at the ECJ Case Law

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2014
Keywords age discrimination, intergenerational justice, complete-life view, statistical discrimination, anti-discrimination law
Authors Axel Gosseries
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper provides an account of what makes age discrimination special, going through a set of possible justifications. In the end, it turns out that a full understanding of the specialness of age-based differential treatment requires that we consider together the ‘reliable proxy,’ the ‘complete-life neutrality,’ the ‘sequence efficiency’ and the ‘affirmative egalitarian’ accounts. Depending on the specific age criteria, all four accounts may apply or only some of them. This is the first key message of this paper. The second message of the paper has to do with the age group/birth cohort distinction. All measures that have a differential impact on different cohorts also tend to have a differential impact on various age groups during the transition. The paper points at the practical implications of anti-age-discrimination law for differential treatment between birth cohorts. The whole argument is confronted all along with ECJ cases.


Axel Gosseries
Axel Gosseries is a permanent research fellow at the Belgian FRS-FNRS and a Professor at the University of Louvain (UCL, Belgium) where he is based at the Hoover Chair in Economic and Social Ethics.
Article

Access_open The Right to Have Rights as the Right to Asylum

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2014
Keywords Arendt, asylum, refugeeship, right to have rights, statelessness de facto and de jure
Authors Nanda Oudejans
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article argues that the right to have rights, as launched by Hannah Arendt, is relative to refugee displacement and hence translates as a right to asylum. It takes issue with the dominant view that the public/private divide is the locus classicus of the meaning of this primordial right. A different direction of thought is proposed, proceeding from Arendt’s recovery of the spatiality of law. The unencompassibility of place in matters of rights, freedom and equality brings this right into view as a claim at the behest of those who have lost a legal place of their own. This also helps us to gain better understanding of Arendt’s rebuttal of the sharp-edged distinction between refugees and stateless persons and to discover the defiant potential of the right to have rights to illuminate the refugee’s claim to asylum as a claim to an own place where protection can be enjoyed again.


Nanda Oudejans
Nanda Oudejans is an independent researcher in philosophy of law and political philosophy.
Article

Access_open Private law and ethical life

Honneth on legal freedom and its pathologies

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2013
Keywords Honneth, Hegel, social freedom, legal freedom, law, pathologies
Authors Jan Ph. Broekhuizen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In Das Recht der Freiheit Axel Honneth develops his concept of social freedom. In this article I discuss Honneth’s project and critique one of its crucial aspects: Honneth’s views on the disruptive role of legal freedom in our society and its dependent relation to the sphere of social freedom. I argue that in his attempt in Das Recht der Freiheit to reactualize Hegel’s discourse on the realization of freedom for our time, Honneth risks mistranslating Hegel’s discourse of ‘right’ by denying the sphere of legal relations a constitutive role for true freedom, and that because of this Honneth’s own theory of social freedom suffers: it becomes less clear whether it can still offer helpful insights into the proper place of legal freedom in our society.


Jan Ph. Broekhuizen
Jan Broekhuizen is an attorney (advocaat) in Amsterdam and a deputy judge at the Court of Appeals in Den Bosch (the Netherlands). He holds degrees in both law and philosophy.
Article

Access_open ‘Down Freedom’s Main Line’

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2012
Keywords democracy, radical freedom, free market economy, consumerism, collective action
Authors Steven L. Winter
AbstractAuthor's information

    Two waves of democratization define the post-Cold War era of globalization. The first one saw democracies emerge in post-communist countries and post-Apartheid South Africa. The current wave began with the uprisings in the Middle East. The first focused on the formal institutions of the market and the liberal state, the second is participatory and rooted in collective action. The individualistic conception of freedom and democracy that underlies the first wave is false and fetishistic. The second wave shows democracy’s moral appeal is the commitment to equal participation in determining the terms and conditions of social life. Freedom, thus, requires collective action under conditions of equality, mutual recognition, and respect.


Steven L. Winter
Steven L. Winter is Walter S. Gibbs Professor of Constitutional Law at Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, Michigan.
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