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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 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 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.


Rainer Forst
Rainer Forst is professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.

    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.
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