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Article

Access_open Restraint as a Source of Judicial ‘Apoliticality’

A Functional Reconstruction

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Urgenda, Miller v. Secretary of State, Norm of judicial apoliticality, Ronald Dworkin, Judicial restraint
Authors Maurits Helmich
AbstractAuthor's information

    Few legal theorists today would argue that the domain of law exists in isolation from other normative spheres governing society, notably from the domain of ‘politics’. Nevertheless, the implicit norm that judges should not act ‘politically’ remains influential and widespread in the debates surrounding controversial court cases. This article aims to square these two observations. Taking the Miller v. Secretary of State and Urgenda cases as illustrative case studies, the article demonstrates that what it means for judges to adjudicate cases ‘apolitically’ is itself a matter of controversy. In reflecting on their own constitutional role, courts are forced to take a stance on substantive questions of political philosophy. Nevertheless, that does not mean that the ‘norm of judicial apoliticality’ should therefore be rejected. The norm’s coherence lies in its intersocial function: its role in declaring certain modes of judicial interpretation and intervention legitimate (‘legal’/‘judicial’) or illegitimate (‘political’).


Maurits Helmich
Maurits Helmich is promovendus aan de afdeling Sociologie, Theorie en Methodologie van het Recht aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open Legal and Political Concepts as Contextures

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2020
Keywords Concepts, Contextualism, Essentially Contested Concepts, Legal Theory, Freedom
Authors Dora Kostakopoulou
AbstractAuthor's information

    Socio-political concepts are not singularities. They are, instead, complex and evolving contextures. An awareness of the latter and of what we need to do when we handle concepts opens up space for the resolution of political disagreements and multiplies opportunities for constructive dialogue and understanding. In this article, I argue that the concepts-as-contextures perspective can unravel conceptual connectivity and interweaving, and I substantiate this by examining the ‘contexture’ of liberty. I show that the different, and seemingly contested, definitions of liberty are the product of mixed articulations and the development of associative discursive links within a contexture.


Dora Kostakopoulou
Dora Kostakopoulou is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU and Professor of European Union Law, European Integration and Public Policy at Warwick University.
Article

Access_open ‘God’s Friend, the Whole World’s Enemy’

Reconsidering the role of piracy in the development of universal jurisdiction.

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2018
Keywords Cicero, Augustine, Bartolus, piracy, universal jurisdiction
Authors Louis Sicking
AbstractAuthor's information

    Piracy holds a special place within the field of international law because of the universal jurisdiction that applies. This article reconsiders the role of piracy in the development of universal jurisdiction. While usually a connection is established between Cicero’s ‘enemy of all’ and modern conceptions of pirates, it is argued that ‘enemy of the human species’ or ‘enemy of humanity’ is a medieval creation, used by Bartolus, which must be understood in the wake of the Renaissance of the twelfth century and the increased interest for the study of Roman Law. The criminalization of the pirate in the late Middle Ages must be understood not only as a consequence of royal power claiming a monopoly of violence at sea. Both the Italian city-states and the Hanse may have preceded royal power in criminalizing pirates. All the while, political motives in doing so were never absent.


Louis Sicking
Louis Sicking is Aemilius Papinianus Professor of History of Public International Law at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and lecturer in medieval and early modern history at Universiteit Leiden.
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 Over verplichte excuses en spreekrecht

Wat is er mis met empirisch-juridisch onderzoek naar slachtoffers?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2017
Keywords empirical legal studies, apologies, procedural justice, humiliation, victim rights
Authors Vincent Geeraets and Wouter Veraart
AbstractAuthor's information

    The central question in this article is whether an empirical-legal approach of victimhood and victim rights could offer a sufficient basis for proposals of legal reform of the legal system. In this article, we choose a normative-critical approach and raise some objections to the way in which part of such research is currently taking place in the Netherlands, on the basis of two examples of research in this field, one dealing with compelled apologies as a possible remedy within civil procedural law and the other with the victim’s right to be heard within the criminal legal procedure. In both cases, we argue, the strong focus on the measurable needs of victims can lead to a relatively instrumental view of the legal system. The legal system must then increasingly be tailored to the wishes and needs of victims. Within this legal-empirical, victim-oriented approach, there is little regard for the general normative principles of our present legal system, in which an equal and respectful treatment of each human being as a free and responsible legal subject is a central value. We argue that results of empirical-legal research should not too easily or too quickly be translated into proposals for legal reform, but first become part of a hermeneutical discussion about norms and legal principles, specific to the normative quality of legal science itself.


Vincent Geeraets
Vincent Geeraets is universitair docent aan de afdeling Rechtstheorie en rechtsgeschiedenis van de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Wouter Veraart
Wouter Veraart is hoogleraar rechtsfilosofie aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
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
Article

Access_open E pluribus unum? The Manifold Meanings of Sovereignty

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords political sovereignty, power, legislative sovereignty, constitutive power, external sovereignty
Authors Raf Geenens
AbstractAuthor's information

    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.
Article

Access_open National Identity, Constitutional Identity, and Sovereignty in the EU

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords national identity, constitutional identity, EU law, constitutional courts, Court of Justice
Authors Elke Cloots
AbstractAuthor's information

    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.

Thomas Riesthuis
Thomas Riesthuis is a PhD candidate at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
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.
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 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 The Casuistry of International Criminal Law: Exploring A New Field of Research

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2015
Keywords international criminal law, judicial reasoning, casuistry, genocide
Authors Marjolein Cupido
AbstractAuthor's information

    International criminal courts have made an important contribution to the development of international criminal law. Through case law, the courts have fine-tuned and modernized outdated concepts of international crimes and liability theories. In studying this practice, scholars have so far focused on the judicial interpretation of statutory and customary rules, thereby paying little attention to the rules’ application in individual cases. In this article, I reveal the limitations of this approach and illustrate how insights from casuistry can advance international criminal law discourse. In particular, I use the example of genocide to show that casuistic case law analyses can help scholars clarify the meaning of the law and appraise the application of substantive legal concepts in individual cases. Based on these observations, I argue that scholars should complement their current research with studies into the casuistry of international criminal law.


Marjolein Cupido
Marjolein Cupido is Assistant Professor at the Department of Criminal Law at VU University Amsterdam and fellow of the Center for International Criminal Justice.

    The article considers the role of the liberal public-private divide in protecting religious minorities against national-majoritarian assault. It links the defence of the public-private divide to liberal neutrality and argues that it rests on two distinct propositions: that the distinction between the ’public sphere’ and the ’private sphere’ is a meaningful way to cognize and structure modern pluralistic societies; and that there is a meaningful way to distinguish what is or ought to be ‘public’ from what is or ought to be ‘private.’ While the latter proposition cannot be defended on grounds of liberal neutrality, the former proposition provides the institutional framework for conducting liberal politics by enabling the negotiation of the public and the private between national majorities and religious minorities as members of the same political community.


Daniel Augenstein
Daniel Augenstein is Associate Professor at the Department of European and International Public Law at Tilburg University.
Article

Access_open The Experience of Legal Injustice

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2014
Keywords legal injustice, legal subject, law and morality, Fuller, Arendt
Authors Wouter Veraart
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper shows that Fuller and Arendt converge on a different point than the point Rundle focuses on. What Fuller and Arendt seem to share in their legal thoughts is not so much an interest in the experience of law-as-such (the interaction between responsible agency and law as a complex institution), but rather an interest in the junction of law and injustice. By not sufficiently focusing on the experience of legal injustice, Rundle overlooks an important point of divergence between Arendt and Fuller. In particular, Arendt differs from Fuller in her conviction that ‘injustice in a legal form’ is an integral part of modern legal systems.


Wouter Veraart
Wouter Veraart is Professor of Legal Philosophy and Director of Research at the Free University Amsterdam; w.j.veraart@vu.nl.
Article

Access_open Lawyers Doing Philosophy

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2014
Keywords human agency, legal doctrine, command theory of law, Fuller, Arendt
Authors Pauline Westerman
AbstractAuthor's information

    Rundle criticizes the command conception of law by means of Fuller’s and Arendt’s concept of human agency. However, neither of these two authors derive law from human agency, as Rundle seems to think. Instead they stress that personhood can only be attributed to physical human beings on the basis of law. Moreover, their theories cannot be understood as answers to Rundle’s question – whatever that may be – but as answers to their own questions and concerns. In the case of Arendt and Fuller, these concerns were so different that the enterprise to reconcile them seems futile. Rundle’s approach can be understood as the attempt to deal with philosophy as if it were legal doctrine.


Pauline Westerman
Pauline Westerman is Professor of Philosophy of Law at the University of Groningen; p.c.westerman@rug.nl

A. Daniel Oliver-Lalana PhD

Wout Cornelissen PhD
Article

Access_open The Meaning of the Presumption of Innocence for Pre-trial Detention

An Empirical Approach

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2013
Keywords pre-trial detention practice, presumption of guilt, incapacitation, presumption of innocence
Authors Lonneke Stevens
AbstractAuthor's information

    The presumption of innocence (PoI) is considered to be an important principle for regulating pre-trial detention. The idea is that pre-trial detention should be a last resort. However, pre-trial detention practice demonstrates that pre-trial detention does not function on the basis of a presumption of innocence but rather from a presumption of guilt and dangerousness. It must be concluded that, with regard to pre-trial detention, the PoI has a rather limited normative effect.


Lonneke Stevens
Lonneke Stevens is Associate Professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at VU University Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open There is Only One Presumption of Innocence

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2013
Keywords burden of proof, German law, procedural rights, pretrial detention
Authors Thomas Weigend
AbstractAuthor's information

    Antony Duff proposes a comprehensive concept of the presumption of innocence, covering the period before, during and after a criminal process, both in an official (state vs. individual) and a non-official, civic sense. By that broad usage, the concept of presumption of innocence is getting blurred and risks losing its contours. I therefore suggest to keep separate matters separate. The presumption of innocence in the narrow sense that I suggest applies only where there exists a suspicion that an individual has committed a criminal offence. The important function of the presumption of innocence in that situation is to prevent an over-extension of state power against the individual under suspicion before that suspicion has been confirmed to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. A general presumption that all people abide by the law at all times is neither warranted nor necessary. It is not warranted because experience tells us that many people break some laws sometimes. And it is not necessary because a system of civil liberties is sufficient to protect us against official or social overreach based on a suspicion that we may commit crimes.


Thomas Weigend
Thomas Weigend is Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Cologne.
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