Summer Course 2003


As from 1999 the European Academy of Legal Theory is organising a Summer Course in legal theory. This course lasts three weeks, from the last week of August till mid September. It aims at presenting the main schools and discussions in legal theory to lawyers or law students who lacked to a large extent legal theory in their legal education. It combines lectures with recommended readings and discussions on topics of current interest.


1. Lectures on various topics (2,5 hours each)

Hereafter, the title and content of the lectures on specific topics are given in the language which will be used for teaching (English or French).

As a rule, teaching hours will be 10.00 a.m. till 12.30 noon (including time for questions and discussion), on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thurs­days and Fridays, during the three weeks and 2.30 p.m. till 5.00 p.m. on some afternoons during the first week.

These lectures are meant to be basic. No preliminary reading of texts is required.

Maurice ADAMS: Philosophical Anthropology and Human Rights

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights encapsulates a strong individualistic view of human beings, a view which is usually associated with philosophical liberalism. This view has recently been strongly criticised by, amongst others, communitarianism. In this lecture this criticism will be discussed, as well as some questions that are raised by it: what value is served by individual freedom? Are human rights necessarily individualistic? Should the mentioned criticism have consequences with regard to our conception of human rights? What value do some alternative conceptions of human rights have?

Yves CARTUYVELS: Naissance de la justice pénale internationale en contexte de mondialisation

Les paradigmes du droit pénal moderne sont associés depuis le XVIIIe siècle à la structure de l’Etat. L’émergence de la mondialisation vient aujourd’hui bousculer ce cadre, ce dont témoigne l’émergence d’une justice pénale internationale pour sanctionner les « crimes contre l’humanité ». A partir du procès de 4 rwandais qui s’est déroulé à Bruxelles en mai-juin 2000, c’est aux principaux enjeux de cette évolution que l’on réfléchira.

René FOQUE: Judicial activism

Much has been said and much has been written about the extensive and increasing use of judicial decision-making as an instrument of political, moral or socio-economic reform. Can the interpretative role of the judiciary bring the judge in the position of a (quasi)legislator ? How far can the judge go in the exercise of his discretion when he has to interpret the law in order to make the law more responsive to the changing context of society ? These questions will be analysed in the perspective of Montesquieu's classical theory of the balance of powers as a necessary condition for a moderate - democratic - legal order.

Benoît FRYDMAN: Cyberlaw

Cette conférence présentera les modèles de régulation juridique de l'internet. On prendra pour base de réflexion la régulation des discours de haine dans un contexte marqué par l'opposition des régimes juridiques européen et américain.

Nidhi GUPTA: Feminist Legal Theory

Feminist legal theory, as a movement, has seen many ups and downs before it could carve out its own distinctive and specific niche in the legal academics. This seminar is focussed at presenting a comprehensive review of the long journey of this movement. The aim is to bring forth the challenges within as well as the ones in front of this movement. During the discussions the attempt will also be to throw light on cross-cultural perspectives for the contemporary feminist legal theory.

Paolisa NEBBIA: The Commission and European Integration: betraying the method of comparative law?

Traditionally, the method of comparative law is perceived as being based on comparing solutions rather than rules, words and concepts: the latter are, in themselves, empty shells that require to be analysed in the prospect of the function they perform within a certain legal system and against the background of different legal traditions and legal thinking.

The Commission recently suggested that a common “frame of reference” in contract law should be adopted as an important step towards European integration. The creation of such a “frame of reference” would entail identifying or rather defining a set of common contract principles and terminology, which would then provide common solutions throughout Europe.

Does the modus procedendi of the Commission - picking empty shells to flesh them out with new meanings- run opposite to that of comparative law? Does it deny the spirit and method of comparative law? Can comparative law still bring its contribution to the achievement of legal integration, and to what extent?

François OST: Droit et littérature. L'exemple du droit des contrats

Le courant Droit et littérature représente une nouvelle manière, originale, de faire de la théorie du droit. Il est en plein développement, notamment aux Etats-Unis. Ce courant se propose d'explorer les différents types de rapport qui s'établissent entre le droit, la langue et la littérature (droit dans la littérature, droit et littérature, droit comme littérature, droit de la littérature). On se propose d'explorer un exemple de la première perspective à propos de la question du temps dans le contrat. Le point de départ de l'analyse sera fourni par l'étude du Marchand de Venise de Shakespeare et du Faust de Goethe.

Pierre-Arnaud PERROUTY: Désobéissance et démocratie

Au départ de la prétention du droit à un caractère universel et obligatoire, on analysera le rapport dialectique entre obéissance et désobéissance à la loi: quelles sont les raisons qui fondent notre obéissance, quelles en sont les limites et quelles sont les tensions entre ces raisons et la liberté individuelle ? On pourra alors tenter de préciser le concept de désobéissance civile, d'en rechercher le fondement (juridique, moral, politique ?) et d'en évaluer la place au sein de la société démocratique.

Valentin PETEV: Justification of Legal Norms in a Pluralistic Society

The justification of legal norms in a pluralistic society can only be provided by substantial moral reasons of the social actors concerned. Such a justification cannot be replaced by a procedural justification model. Neo-Pragmatics (H. Putnam, R.Rorty) and Discursive Ethics (J.Habermas) are analized. According to a pure epistemic stance, legal norms are only valid if their content is acceptable by all persons affected by them, and this by everyone from the perspective of the others. On the contrary, it will be argued that legal norms are justified if prevailing axiological (socio-ethical) arguments are advanced in their favour. This occurs in political discourses and institutionalized legal procedures. The participants accept the result of discours and deliberation not only because it is yielded by rational arguments but also because it corresponds with the participant`s interests.

Mark VAN HOECKE: European Legal Integration

Some theoretical problems of comparative law, as related to the harmonisation of private law in Europe, will be discussed. It will be shown how an insight into traditional problems of legal theory (definition and structure of legal systems, nature and structure of norms, etc.) is needed for the discussion on such a process of legal integration. This will be followed by a brief discussion of the different possible roads towards a harmonisation of private law in Europe (legal science or legal practice, legislation or judge made law, etc..).

Massimo VOGLIOTTI: L'oralité dans le droit contemporain

Plusieurs signes semblent confirmer l’hypothèse que le droit contemporain tend à se structurer de plus en plus selon des formes orales d’organisation et de transmission de la pensée. Alors que sur la scène du droit, encombrée par un archipel de textes en augmentation constante, semble se célébrer le triomphe de l’écriture juridique, on est obligé d’enregistrer, en réalité, un phénomène contraire d’affaiblissement progressif du paradigme de l’écriture. L’inflation de textes hétérogènes qui souvent se superposent sans un dessin précis et qui sont soumis à un processus de réécriture continue finit par engendrer une banalisation du Texte juridique et une perte importante de sa force performative. Locutions à la mode telles droit "flou", "mou", "flexible", "soft", "en douceur" ou le succès actuel de modes de raisonnement déformalisés comme la balance des intérêts témoignent du déclin de notre paradigme juridique axé sur le modèle de l’écriture: tout le droit est contenu dans des Textes éminents imposés - directement ou indirectement - par la volonté du Souverain. Cette rupture épistémologique, qui s’est affirmée à partir des codifications modernes, a fini par engendrer un véritable culte pour le Texte, avec ses Vestales (les juges gardiens du sens de mots écrits par un Législateur conçu à l’image d’une divinité toute-puissante) et ses exorcistes-exégètes (la doctrine, chargée de commenter le Texte et de le purifier - sous commande tacite du Législateur - de toutes les impuretés lexicales qui peuvent empêcher la domination de la Lettre sur l’interprète). Le retour d’éléments d’oralité dans le droit contemporain (souligné aussi par la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme qui considère le mot "loi" comme englobant le droit écrit et non écrit) déplace l’accent du Texte et de son Auteur vers les interprètes-rhapsodes et le contexte de leur "performance" et finit fatalement par poser des nouvelles questions.

Luc WINTGENS: Legisprudence, a New Theory of Legislation

Legalism a the basic pattern of legal reasoning, both legislative and judicial, is the main cause for the absence of a theory of legislation nowadays. Legisprudence aims to offer, via a critical analysis of legalism, a new framework for the development for a theory of legislation. The principium of law in Modern philosophy is freedom. Freedom as a concept needs concretisation in terms of conceptions. Conceptions of freedom are the ones of the social actors. Conceptions about freedom are the ones that figure in external limitations that is the law. It is shown in this lecture that the philosophical project of Modernity, with Descartes, Hobbes, Rousseau and Kant, aims to provide a rational limitation of freedom in terms of conceptions about freedom, in order to justify the power of the Modern state. Legisprudence, for its part, as a new theory of legislation, provides the framework for a rational choice between conceptions of and conceptions about freedom. Upon that basis, the main principles of legisprudence are presented and rationally argued.

Ahmed ZIAUDDIN: Law on Revolution

The lecture will start with brief reviews of general principles on norms, hierarchy of norms, basic norms, etc. This will then be followed by a general introduction to the breakdown of legal orders, either through revolution or otherwise, and to how the process has to be resolved in law. A number of concrete examples of revolution or breakdown will be used to illustrate the principles and problems involved.

2. General overview lectures (24 hours)

Topical lectures are complemented by a series of lectures that offer a general overview of schools, authors and discussions in twentieth century legal theory. These lectures will be taught by Frank Fleerackers and will take place in the afternoon in the 2nd and 3rd week (2.30 - 4.00 and 4.30 - 6.00 p.m., every working day).

The teaching language will be English.

The purpose of the course is to provide a general overview of the field of jurisprudence in 20th century. Therefore, its focus on general problems(definition, scope and methods of legal theory; natural law and positivism; legalism), specific fields and schools (the Pure Theory of Law, American and Scandinavian Realism, Critical Legal Studies, Law and Economics, argumentation and legitimation) as well as on the work of leading scholars in jurisprudence (including Kelsen, Hart, Dworkin, Raz, Aarnio, Alexy, e.a.)

3. Special sessions

In the first week, special sessions will be organised for introducing the participants into research in the field of legal theory, including the use of Internet and databases. A social programme will also be worked out, partly depending on the number of participants in the summer course and their interests.


Accommodation will be provided for all participants, in the neighbourhood of the university. The fees include the rent for the room from 24 August till September 13th. Earlier arrival is possible subject to prior arrangement. As a rule, the use of the room cannot be extended beyond Sunday 15 September.

However, a room cannot be guaranteed if payment did not reach us before the end of July.

Breakfast is not served.

For lunch and/or dinner meal tickets are available for various kinds of restaurants in the immediate neighbourhood of the university. Prices are between 5 and 8 € for a full meal, including one drink.


The fees for the summer course are 625 €. They include access to the lectures and special sessions, to the library and computer facilities, accommodation and some limited documentation.

Meals are not included.

For those who would not need accommodation the fees are 500 €.

Fees have to be paid on the account 210-0680761-67 (at the Fortis Bank) of the Katholieke Universi­teit Brussel, Vrijheidslaan 17, B-1081 Brussels, mentioning "Summer Course LT", preferably before July 1st.

For payments after 1 July accommodation can not be guaranteed. 

Copyright by European Association for the Teaching of Legal Theory