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Access_open Suffering from Vulnerability

On the Relation Between Law, Contingency and Solidarity

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Vulnerability, Contingency, Freedom and Anxiety, Solidarity, Legal concept of inclusion
Authors Benno Zabel
AbstractAuthor's information

    The COVID-19 crisis has produced or amplified disruptive processes in societies. This article wants to argue for the fact that we understand the meaning of the COVID-19 crisis only if we relate it to the fundamental vulnerability of modern life and the awareness of vulnerability of whole societies. Vulnerability in modernity are expressions of a reality of freedom that is to some extent considered contingent and therefore unsecured. It is true that law is understood today as the protective power of freedom. The thesis of the article, however, boils down to the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a new way of thinking about the protection of freedom. This also means that the principle of solidarity must be assigned a new social role. Individual and societal vulnerability refer thereafter to an interconnectedness, dependency, and a future perspective of freedom margins that, in addition to the moral one, can also indicate a need for legal protection. In this respect, law has not only a function of delimitation, but also one of inclusion.


Benno Zabel
Benno Zabel is Professor of Criminal Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of Bonn.
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 Reciprocity: a fragile equilibrium

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2014
Keywords reciprocity, exchange theory, natural law theory, dyadic relations, corrective justice
Authors Prof. dr. Pauline Westerman PhD
AbstractAuthor's information

    Reciprocity may serve to explain or to justify law. In its latter capacity, which is the topic of this article, reciprocity is commonly turned into a highly idealized notion, as either a balance between two free and equal parties or as the possibility of communication tout court. Both ideals lack empirical reference. If sociological and anthropological literature on forms of exchange is taken into account, it should be acknowledged that reciprocal relations are easy to destabilize. The dynamics of exchange invites exclusion and inequality. For this reason reciprocity should not be presupposed as the normative underpinning of law; instead, law should be presupposed in order to turn reciprocity into a desirable ideal.


Prof. dr. Pauline Westerman PhD
Pauline Westerman is Professor in Philosophy of Law at the University of Groningen and member of staff at the Academy for Legislation in the Hague. She is editor of The Theory and Practice of Legislation, a journal published by Hart, Oxford. She writes mainly on legal methodology and legislation, especially on alternative forms of legislation. For more information as well as publications, see her personal website: <www.paulinewesterman.nl>.
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