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Opinion

Access_open Do We Want 'More or Fewer' Prosecutions of Opinions? The Geert Wilders Trial 2.0

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Geert Wilders, hate speech, freedom of opinion, District Court of The Hague, conviction
Authors Jogchum Vrielink
Author's information

Jogchum Vrielink
Jogchum Vrielink is a guest professor at the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en droit constitutionnel, Université Saint-Louis (Brussels) and at the Faculty of Canon Law, University of Leuven.
Article

Access_open Power and Principle in Constitutional Law

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords sovereignty, constitutional law, positivism, constructivism, common law
Authors Pavlos Eleftheriadis
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    Legal and sociological theories of sovereignty disagree about the role of legal and social matters in grounding state power. This paper defends a constructivist view, according to which the constitution is a judgment of practical reason. The paper argues that a constitution sets out a comprehensive institutional architecture of social life in terms of principles and official roles that are necessary for any legitimate scheme of social cooperation to exist. It follows that legal and sociological theories of sovereignty capture only part of the truth of sovereignty. Legal reasoning engages with political power, but it is not determined by it. There is no causal chain between power and validity, as suggested by the legal positivists. The relation between power and law is interpretive, not causal. It follows that the circularity of law and the constitution, namely the fact that the law makes the constitution and the constitution makes the law, is not a vicious circle. It is part of an ordinary process of deliberation.


Pavlos Eleftheriadis
Pavlos Eleftheriadis is Associate Professor of Law and Fellow in Law at Mansfield College, University of Oxford.

    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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