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    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.


Professor Ludvig Beckman
Ludvig Beckman is professor of political science at Stockholm University.
Book Review

Access_open Antonia M. Waltermann, ‘Sovereignties’

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2018
Keywords Sovereignty, people, rule of recognition, H.L.A. Hart
Authors Dr. Bertjan Wolthuis
AbstractAuthor's information

    ‘Sovereignties’ provides clear insights in various aspects of sovereignty, but Waltermann’s approach hides certain issues from view.


Dr. Bertjan Wolthuis
Bertjan Wolthuis is assistant professor of legal theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open The Demos as a Plural Subject

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2017
Keywords democracy, demos, normativity, Margaret Gilbert, joint commitment
Authors Bas Leijssenaar PhD
AbstractAuthor's information

    Existing conceptualizations of the demos fail to treat issues of composition and performativity consistently. Recent literature suggests that both aspects are required in a satisfactory account of the demos. An analysis of this literature suggests several desiderata that such an account must meet. I approach the definition of demos with a conceptual framework derived from Margaret Gilbert’s plural subject theory of social groups. I propose an account of demos as a plural subject, constituted by joint commitment. This account offers an improved and consistent understanding of normativity, composition, agency, and cohesion of demos.


Bas Leijssenaar PhD
Bas Leijssenaar is PhD-candidate at the Institute of Philosophy, Centre for Social and Political Philosophy of the University of Leuven.
Article

Access_open Belgium and Democratic Constitution-Making: Prospects for the Future?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2017
Keywords constitutional change, democracy, participation, Belgium
Authors Ronald Van Crombrugge
Abstract

    How constitutions are changed – and more importantly: how they should be changed – is the subject of ongoing debate. There seems to be a growing consensus, however, that in order for a constitution to be considered legitimate it is required that it was created through a democratic process. This growing consensus stands in sharp contrast with the Belgian experience of constitutional change as an essentially elite-led process that takes place behind closed doors. This article seeks to explore the possibilities for more democratic forms of constitutional change in Belgium. It does so by evaluating and comparing two examples of democratic constitution-making, namely the constitution-making processes In South Africa (1996) and Iceland (2012). On the basis of these two examples, several concrete suggestions will be made, which are not only relevant for the Belgian case but can be applied more broadly to other countries as well.


Ronald Van Crombrugge

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 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.

    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.

    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.

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.
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.
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