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See detailLaw of the Living: The Semiotic Structure and Dynamics of Law
Ellsworth, Jeffrey UL

Doctoral thesis (2016)

Law is an evolving mental construct. Law, considered distinctly from a legal system, is only a constructed reality which our minds overlay upon the existent world that we experience. This reality is ... [more ▼]

Law is an evolving mental construct. Law, considered distinctly from a legal system, is only a constructed reality which our minds overlay upon the existent world that we experience. This reality is formed by signs and is indefinite and always changing. This reality gives meaning to our world; it turns brute violence into justice and papers into contracts. Law is meaning. Law is merely meaning. And all meaning is law. Not all meaning is law in the legal sense of law, but in the general sense of law which includes the legal sense. Law is semiosis. Hence, Law of the Living because semiosis is always alive in our minds, always contemporary and in the moment. The analysis predominantly employs the philosophy of Charles Peirce. The work focuses on the ontology of law and the problems of legal meaning. Specifically, the first part explicitly addresses the issue of ontology and advocates for an inter-subjective ontological perspective, as well as considering the value and limitations of textualism. The second part addresses the problems of legal meaning due to the reductive nature of communication and the diversity of human perspectives. The former is done through a reconsideration of what law ‘is’ in terms of rules, principles, and factual categories; and the latter through an exploration of the differing conceptions of community and their relevance to law and to society. The work is a combination of legal theory and sociolegal studies culminating in the assertion that the general public must be provided a minimum level of legal education in order to experience legal reality, and not merely a generally analogous social reality, as well as to meaningfully participate in the ongoing legal discourse in society. [less ▲]

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See detailConstitutional Sovereignty and Social Solidarity in Europe
Van Der Walt, Johan Willem Gous UL; Ellsworth, Jeffrey UL

Book published by Nomos/Bloomsbury (2015)

The essays in this book respond in different ways to questions regarding sovereignty, constitutionality and social solidarity in the European Union. Some of the essays perceive a threefold deficit in this ... [more ▼]

The essays in this book respond in different ways to questions regarding sovereignty, constitutionality and social solidarity in the European Union. Some of the essays perceive a threefold deficit in this regard – a constitutionality, sovereignty and solidarity deficit. The common view that can be distilled from them relates to a perception that the people and peoples of the European Union have drifted into a quagmire of political paralysis within which essential features of the paralysis – lack of constitutionality, lack of sovereignty and lack of social solidarity – feed off one another. Lack of solidarity, not only between European citizens, but also between Member States of the European Union, derails all possibilities of common political initiative, fervour and purpose. And absence of such common initiative, fervour and purpose quite evidently explains the faltering of Europe’s constitutional project and the reduction of this project to that which Jürgen Habermas has come to call Europe’s “mindless incrementalism.” Unable to arrive at the constitutionality that would allow for the emergence of European sovereignty, the faltering constitutional process has only managed to dismantle essential elements of sovereignty and social solidarity within the Member States of the European Union. This has led to the double edged lack of sovereignty (lack of sovereignty at EU level and lack of sovereignty in the Member States) that has lead Dieter Grimm to observe (also in his contribution to this book) that there may well be no true sovereign left in Europe today. Against this background, it is perhaps no surprise that a non-sovereign body would step in to take over the responsibilities of sovereign government, and do so on the basis of the only principle that appears prima facie legitimate under circumstances of political paralysis, namely, the ordo-liberal principle of reducing politics to guardianship of free competition between individuals that replaces constitutional law with competition law; hence the crucial role that the market-liberalisation jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice have come to play in the non-sovereign or surreptiously-sovereign way Europe is governed today. To be sure, not all the essays in this book share this grim view. A number of them discern an emergence of new forms of democracy or even new forms of political legitimacy in the complex structures of multi-level governance in the European Union. Between them, however, the spectrum of essays that make up this book undoubtedly provides the reader with a comprehensive study of the key issues of European politics and law today. [less ▲]

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