Translating Ideas

Picking up some of the threads of the current debate on this blog, I would like to focus on an aspect that to my mind is of crucial importance in the matter: the necessity of translation.

What I mean by that will hopefully become clear in the course of the following three steps:

First I would like to argue why and in what sense doctrinal scholarship is (or at least can be) at the very core of law. In a second step I would like to explain why – therefore and nevertheless – it needs interdisciplinarity and internationalization/comparative legal studies. And finally I focus on one of the main conditions for a successful dialogue between these elements. All this flanked by referring to the report of the German Council of Science and Humanities and how it faces these three aspects.

I start – not surprisingly – with the first step: the value of legal doctrine

Legal doctrine is a mediator of will, it communicates normativity by being an interpreter between the abstract general norm(s) and the concrete particular case(s) with a – cum grano salis – clear and precise grammar (see also report p. 37) – and I would hold this even though I am well aware of its limits. By doing so, legal doctrine is also the common language in a dialog of legal science and legal practice, making the (smaller or larger) space of scientific reasoning more easily accessible to application and vice versa. Thus it also enriches the concept of equality of and before the law relating universal and general aspects of equal treatment to the diversities of every singular case/subject. Legal doctrine in so far also resembles the very idea of normativity as a link between mind and the world experienced, between an idea or will and its realization. “Its objects are legal texts that are both valid and intended to be applied” (report p. 35). The “normativity and decision-making function of legal scholarship” “has real and lasting effects on social life.” (report p ...

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