Reference : Law of the Living: The Semiotic Structure and Dynamics of Law
Dissertations and theses : Doctoral thesis
Law, criminology & political science : Multidisciplinary, general & others
Law / European Law
Law of the Living: The Semiotic Structure and Dynamics of Law
Ellsworth, Jeffrey mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) > Law Research Unit >]
University of Luxembourg, ​​Luxembourg
Docteur en Droit
Van Der Walt, Johan Willem Gous mailto
Hiez, David mailto
Christodoulidis, Emilios mailto
Wagner, Anne mailto
Backer, Larry mailto
[en] jurisprudence ; legal theory ; philosophy of law ; legal semiotics ; ontology of law
[en] 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.

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