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Title: Law's ontology and practical reason
Author: Pavlakos, George I.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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The thesis is an attempt to reconcile law's dual nature, its factual dimensions (its facticity) and its normative/evaluative dimension (its normativity), in a non-reductive manner. The tension between those two dimensions appears particularly acute when we try to discern some object of reference for our normative talk/discourse. Then the possibility of absence of such objects poses a high threat to the meaningfulness of the enterprise of law tout court. Faced with this danger lawyers usually end up reducing legal references to physical, non-normative entities. Palpable for our senses are those entities may be, they do not seem to eliminate the threat of meaningfulness posed to the legal enterprise, as they end up eliminating law's normativity. In contrast I argue that legal and broader practical norms can be reconstructed as abstract objects that are available to knowledge. The method employed, relies predominantly on a semantic explication of the 'objecthood' of norms along the lines of a neo-Fregean theory of mental content. Further, I employ an analysis of the meaning of legal expressions in order to show that a semantic account of legal 'objecthood' will be demarcated by the pragmatic-normative requirements that support the relevant practices in which legal meaning is generated (as is specified by some version of Wittgenstein's meaning as use' theory of meaning). I proceed to argue that those pragmatic requirements include some transcendental pragmatic norms which specify an ultimate practical or moral point of view against the background of which practical meaning is possible. Later, this point of view is specified as a Super-norm or Principle of Autonomy. This norm bestows a evaluative element upon the meaning of all practical expressions/propositions and, via the semantics-exhausts-ontology thesis, into the normative objects (norms, rules and so on) that correspond to them. Finally it is claimed that legal norms are a species of practical norms, to the extent that both fall under the same criteria of validity that are specified by the point of view of the Norm of Autonomy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available