Universiteit Antwerpen

Conference on 'The State of Jurisprudence', 2-3 November 2012

November 2-3, 2012

Venue: Congresscentrum Elzenveld, Lange Gasthuisstraat 45, 2000 Antwerpen

A two-day conference co-organised by Professors M. Kumm (Berlin and NYU) and G. Pavlakos (Antwerp and Glasgow)

Content and aims

The colloquium seeks to question and scrutinize closely the traditional idea that there is a deep and important divide between state (national) law and international law (or law beyond the state). On the one hand much of analytical jurisprudence and much of constitutional theory was and to some extent remains state focused. Even if it is commonly recognized that law beyond the state may also qualify as law properly so called and ground legal obligation, that law is often deemed to be in some basic sense lacking either in terms of its efficacy or legitimacy. Its efficacy is questioned because of law's link to coercion and the perceived institutional inadequacies to ensure the enforcement of international legal obligations. And it legitimacy is questioned with regard to its lack of appropriate grounding in the practices of a genuine political community capable of democratic self-government. On the other hand there is an increasing literature on “Global governance”, “Global Administrative Law”, “Lex Mercatoria” and “Global Constitutionalisms”, which often implies that there is nothing fundamental about the national/international divide. Is that plausible? What is the appropriate function of the state for a plausible jurisprudential account of law and the grounds of legal obligation?

The point of departure is the dominant role of the state system that was established with the Treaty of Westphalia. Whereas a plethora of justifications have been proposed over time, it would seem that most of them tie the legitimating power of that system to certain facts about its institutional make-up. As a result, it is argued, any context that may lack those characteristics cannot ground obligations. But why should one subject international law to such a high standard, one that it is unlike to ever meet? Turning the argument on its head we pose the normative question about the legitimating capacity of the Westphalian system, and attempt to identify normative grounds that make it an appropriate source of obligation, rather that concluding to such grounds from the structural features of the nation state. Having arrived to normative grounds in this manner does not, however, conceptually preclude that some other institutional arrangement may be equally well-equipped to answer the normative question.

The normative question will be posed as a question about coercion (2nd panel): while the state is a sufficient condition for evoking reasons for justifying its coercive apparatus, it may not be a necessary one. Other institutional arrangements, or instances of interaction between actors, may be coercive without presupposing the state apparatus of the Westphalian system. Pondering on the issue of coercion may show that the legitimating grounds of law need not be identical with the coercive apparatus of the state as we know it. In a further step (3rd panel), we will turn to examine possible candidates for legitimating grounds (justice, community, democracy). In particular, we wish to leave it an open question whether such grounds are conceptually tied to the state. What is not left open is that anything that may count as a ground must answer the normative question qua question of coercion. Flanking the two central panels, we have designed two more panels: On the one hand, an opening panel (1st panel) will set out key themes and undertake a mapping of the conceptual terrain of the workshop by way of pondering on some classical questions – traditionally posed by international lawyers – which touch upon the core problems of the workshop: the national-international divide and the monism-dualism controversy. Finally a concluding panel (4th panel) will address questions of conflict between legal orders as conflicts of authority.

Further particulars

Format: 4 panels comprising a keynote paper and two comments, allowing ample time for discussion (2.5 hours per panel). In the opening panel the two organisers will take the opportunity to set out the central problem and identify key themes of the conference. The provisional titles of the panels are: 1) The National-International Divide; 2) The Relevance of Coercion; 3) Legitimating Grounds (Community, Democracy, Justice); 4) Conflicts of Authority.



Samantha Besson (Fribourg), Thomas Christiano (Arizona), Rainer Forst (Frankfurt), Marco Goldoni (Glasgow/Antwerp), Alexia Herwig (Antwerp), Mattias Kumm (WZB/NYU), Oona Hathaway (Yale), George Pavlakos (Antwerp/Glasgow), Arthur Ripstein (Toronto), Scott Shapiro (Yale), Andrea Sangiovanni (King's College), Nicos Stavropoulos (Oxford).

Friday: 2/11

13:00– 13:30: Welcome brunch

13:30 – 16:00, Panel I: The National-International Divide
Keynote: Oona Hathaway (Yale) and Scott Shapiro (Yale)
Commentators: Mattias Kumm (WZB and NYU) and George Pavlakos (Antwerp and Glasgow)

Chair: Samantha Besson (Fribourg)

16:00 coffee break

16:30 -19:00, Panel II: The Relevance of Coercion
Keynote: Arthur Ripstein (Toronto)
Commentators: Andrea Sangiovanni (King’s College) and Nicos Stavropoulos (Oxford)

Chair: George Pavlakos (Antwerp and Glasgow)

20:00: dinner

Saturday: 3/11
10:30 – 13:00, Panel III: Conflicts of Authority
Keynote: Mattias Kumm (WZB and NYU)
Commentators: Samantha Besson (Fribourg) and Marco Goldoni (Glasgow and Antwerp)

Chair: Geert De Baere (KU Leuven)

13:00 Sandwich lunch

14:00 – 16:30, Panel IV: Legitimating Grounds (Community, Democracy, Justice)
Keynote: Thomas Christiano (Arizona)
Commentators: Alexia Herwig (Antwerp) and Helder De Schutter (KU Leuven)

Chair: Mattias Kumm (WZB and NYU)

16:30-17:30: wine reception