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    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.
Article

Access_open Retributivist Arguments against Presuming Innocence

Answering to Duff

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2013
Keywords broad presumption of innocence, retributivism, punishment of innocents, vicarious liability of car owners, drink-driving tests of non-suspects
Authors Alwin A. van Dijk
AbstractAuthor's information

    Factors justifying not presuming innocence are generally incorporated into the Presumption of Innocence (PoI). A confusing discourse has resulted: numerous guilt-presuming acts are deemed consistent with the PoI. I argue for an unusually broad PoI: any act that might convey to a reasonable actor that he is not presumed innocent of a punishable offence constitutes a PoI interference. Thus, academic debate need only be about the question what PoI interferences are justifiable or unjustifiable. This question must be answered using pro- and anti-PoI values. I analyse three PoI interferences in relation to Duff’s retributivist punishment theory: presumptions of guilt, vicarious liability of car owners and coercing non-suspects into proving their sobriety. Retributivists tend to castigate such procedures based on their (supposed) consequentialist rationale. I argue, however, that they might also be justified on retributivist grounds. The retributivist anti-PoI duty to punish the guilty may be the worst enemy of innocents.


Alwin A. van Dijk
Alwin A. van Dijk is Assistant Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Groningen.
Article

Access_open Juridical Acts and the Gap between Is and Ought

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2013
Keywords naturalistic fallacy, duty, obligation, is/ought, contract, promise
Authors Jaap Hage
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article addresses the possibility of deriving ought from is. To that purpose it casts doubt on the very distinction between is and ought; distinguishes between duties, obligations, being obligated and owing to do something; revitalises Searle’s famous derivation of ought from is by replacing promises with contracts; and discusses some of the traditional objections against this derivation. The conclusions are that it is not problematic at all to ‘derive’ the existence of obligations from solely is-premises, and that it is not very problematic to ‘derive’ an ought from the existence of an obligation. The quotes around ‘derive’ signal that the nature of derivation also plays a role in this discussion.


Jaap Hage
Jaap Hage holds the chair for Jurisprudence at Maastricht University.
Discussion

Access_open Hybrid Constitutionalism, Fundamental Rights and the State

A Response to Gunther Teubner

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2011
Keywords societal constitutionalism, Gunther Teubner, system theory, fundamental rights
Authors Gert Verschraegen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution explores how much state is necessary to make societal constitutionalism work. I first ask why the idea of a global societal constitutionalism ‘beyond the state-and-politics’ might be viewed as a significant and controversial, but nonetheless justified innovation. In the second part I discuss what Teubner calls ‘the inclusionary effects of fundamental rights’. I argue that Teubner underplays the mediating role of the state in guaranteeing inclusion or access, and in a way presupposes well-functioning states in the background. In areas of limited statehood there is a problem of enforcing fundamental rights law. It is an open question whether, and under which conditions, constitutional norms within particular global social spheres can provide enough counter-weight when state constitutional norms are lacking.


Gert Verschraegen
Gert Verschraegen is Assistant Professor of Theoretical Sociology at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.
Article

Access_open Transnational Fundamental Rights: Horizontal Effect?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2011
Keywords fundamental rights, societal constitutionalism, inclusionary and exclusionary effects, anonymous matrix
Authors Gunther Teubner
AbstractAuthor's information

    Violations of human rights by transnational corporations and by other ‘private’ global actors raise problems that signal the limits of the traditional doctrine of ‘horizontal effects’. To overcome them, constitutional law doctrine needs to be complemented by perspectives from legal theory and sociology of law. This allows new answers to the following questions: What is the validity basis of human rights in transnational ‘private’ regimes – extraterritorial effect, colère public or external pressures on autonomous law making in global regimes? Do they result in protective duties of the states or in direct human rights obligations of private transnational actors? What does it mean to generalise state-directed human rights and to respecify them for different social spheres? Are societal human rights limited to ‘negative’ rights or is institutional imagination capable of developing ‘positive’ rights – rights of inclusion and participation in various social fields? Are societal human rights directed exclusively against corporate actors or can they be extended to counteract structural violence of anonymous social processes? Can such broadened perspectives of human rights be re-translated into the practice of public interest litigation?


Gunther Teubner
Gunther Teubner is Professor of Private Law and Legal Sociology and Principal Investigator of the Excellence Cluster ‘The Formation of Normative Orders’ at the Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main. He is also Professor at the International University College, Torino, Italy.
Article

Access_open Constitutionalism and the Incompleteness of Democracy: An Iterative Relationship

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2010
Keywords constitutionalism, globalization, democracy, modernity, postnational
Authors Neil Walker
AbstractAuthor's information

    The complexity of the relationship between democracy and modern constitutionalism is revealed by treating democracy as an incomplete ideal. This refers both to the empirical incompleteness of democracy as unable to supply its own terms of application – the internal dimension – and to the normative incompleteness of democracy as guide to good government – the external dimension. Constitutionalism is a necessary response to democratic incompleteness – seeking to realize (the internal dimension) and to supplement and qualify democracy (the external dimension). How democratic incompleteness manifests itself, and how constitutionalism responds to incompleteness evolves and alters, revealing the relationship between constitutionalism and democracy as iterative. The paper concentrates on the iteration emerging from the current globalizing wave. The fact that states are no longer the exclusive sites of democratic authority compounds democratic incompleteness and complicates how constitutionalism responds. Nevertheless, the key role of constitutionalism in addressing the double incompleteness of democracy persists under globalization. This continuity reflects how the deep moral order of political modernity, in particular the emphasis on individualism, equality, collective agency and progress, remains constant while its institutional architecture, including the forms of its commitment to democracy, evolves. Constitutionalism, itself both a basic orientation and a set of design principles for that architecture, remains a necessary support for and supplement to democracy. Yet post-national constitutionalism, even more than its state-centred predecessor, remains contingent upon non-democratic considerations, so reinforcing constitutionalism’s normative and sociological vulnerability. This conclusion challenges two opposing understandings of the constitutionalism of the global age – that which indicts global constitutionalism because of its weakened democratic credentials and that which assumes that these weakened democratic credentials pose no problem for post-national constitutionalism, which may instead thrive through a heightened emphasis on non-democratic values.


Neil Walker
Neil Walker is Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
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