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Rules, Institutions, Transformations. Considerations on the “Evolution of Law” Paradigm

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The article's main objective is to test the merits of the evolutionary paradigm as it has been applied first to social phenomena and then more specifically to the legal domain. In a preliminary move, a set of the available concepts of law is worked out. A discussion of the idea of evolution and of its use in the social sciences follows. Functionalism and systems theory are scrutinized, with a close eye to the new doctrine of “autopoiesis.” Once an institutional and normative concept of law is agreed upon, attempts to introduce an “evolutionary” paradigm are deemed—the article contends—to be unfruitful. The article concludes that, if law needs a metaphysics, it should be one which allows for change, transformation and the emergence of the radically new. A social universe without gaps, all possible forms of which are determined from the beginning, will end up as the opposite of what we are used to considering as the practice of law.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: European University Institute

Publication date: 1997-09-01

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