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Normative approaches to law

Dates:
  • Thu 12 Nov 2020 09.30 - 13.00
  Add to Calendar 2020-11-12 9:30 2020-11-12 13:00 Europe/Paris Normative approaches to law

Outline

Normative approaches to law address questions about the law as it ought to be, as opposed to the law as it is. There exists a broad variety of normative theories of law, both of the law in general and of specific fields, such as tort law, public international law, or tax law. Just like moral philosophy and normative political philosophy, so too normative approaches to law are sometimes criticised or dismissed as being unscientific. At the same time, however, legal scholars (PhD candidates and more senior ones alike) are often tempted to offer recommendations for improving the law on a given subject, or to criticise a legal rule, doctrine, or court ruling, not merely for violating a higher legal norm (eg the constitution), but because they are ‘unfair’, ‘unjust’, ‘inefficient’, ‘suboptimal’, or ‘unpractical’. Such claims imply the availability of a standard for determining what amounts to a fair, just, efficient, optimal or practical law. It is the objective of normative theories of law to articulate such normative standards and analyse their implications, as a result of which normative and evaluative claims about the law can become more than the mere subjective opinions of the author and make an actual contribution to our understanding and knowledge of the law.

Some normative theories of law present and justify a given legal field as being autonomous, guided by its own specific normative principles. Typical examples are the various corrective justice theories of private law. However, most other normative theories understand the law, including specific legal fields, as being subject to more general moral and/or political principles. Therefore, in this course we will discuss some of the leading contemporary normative political theories, and their implications for the law. In particular, we will debate the merits and relevance of utilitarianism, liberal-egalitarianism, libertarianism, communitarianism, civic republicanism and discourse theory. In addition, we will address some of the main grounds of critique and scepticism towards normative theories and concepts coming from Marxism and poststructuralism.

Although the course draws on abstract political theories, its main objectives are very concrete and practical. The core aim is to assist researchers in making more articulate choices with regard to the (potential) normative dimensions of their own research projects

Readings

A short text (around 30 pages) will be made available in advance.

Assignment

In advance of the seminar, researchers will submit a short statement on the extent to which their research questions are normative and on whether they will be employing any normative research methods in their research projects (max 500 words). The statement will be commented upon by peers during the seminar.

Sala del Consiglio - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Consiglio - Villa Salviati- Castle

Outline

Normative approaches to law address questions about the law as it ought to be, as opposed to the law as it is. There exists a broad variety of normative theories of law, both of the law in general and of specific fields, such as tort law, public international law, or tax law. Just like moral philosophy and normative political philosophy, so too normative approaches to law are sometimes criticised or dismissed as being unscientific. At the same time, however, legal scholars (PhD candidates and more senior ones alike) are often tempted to offer recommendations for improving the law on a given subject, or to criticise a legal rule, doctrine, or court ruling, not merely for violating a higher legal norm (eg the constitution), but because they are ‘unfair’, ‘unjust’, ‘inefficient’, ‘suboptimal’, or ‘unpractical’. Such claims imply the availability of a standard for determining what amounts to a fair, just, efficient, optimal or practical law. It is the objective of normative theories of law to articulate such normative standards and analyse their implications, as a result of which normative and evaluative claims about the law can become more than the mere subjective opinions of the author and make an actual contribution to our understanding and knowledge of the law.

Some normative theories of law present and justify a given legal field as being autonomous, guided by its own specific normative principles. Typical examples are the various corrective justice theories of private law. However, most other normative theories understand the law, including specific legal fields, as being subject to more general moral and/or political principles. Therefore, in this course we will discuss some of the leading contemporary normative political theories, and their implications for the law. In particular, we will debate the merits and relevance of utilitarianism, liberal-egalitarianism, libertarianism, communitarianism, civic republicanism and discourse theory. In addition, we will address some of the main grounds of critique and scepticism towards normative theories and concepts coming from Marxism and poststructuralism.

Although the course draws on abstract political theories, its main objectives are very concrete and practical. The core aim is to assist researchers in making more articulate choices with regard to the (potential) normative dimensions of their own research projects

Readings

A short text (around 30 pages) will be made available in advance.

Assignment

In advance of the seminar, researchers will submit a short statement on the extent to which their research questions are normative and on whether they will be employing any normative research methods in their research projects (max 500 words). The statement will be commented upon by peers during the seminar.


Location:
Sala del Consiglio - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of Law

Type:
Seminar

Contact:
Law Department Administration - Send a mail

Speaker:
Prof. Martijn Hesselink (EUI - LAW)

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