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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2009 x Rubriek Artikel x
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Access_open Wetenschappelijke rechtsgeleerdheid

Commentaar op het preadvies van Carel Smith

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 3 2009
Trefwoorden law and hermeneutics, law and normativity, one right answer thesis, legal jurisprudence, legal doctrine
Auteurs Prof. dr. Arend Soeteman
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article is a comment on Carel Smith’s paper. Smith rightly argues that the study of law has a hermeneutic character. But his interpretation of legal hermeneutics includes the thesis that in hard cases there is no right or true legal decision. This seems to have negative implications for the scholarly character of the study of law: in hard cases any solution goes. This paper argues, against Smith, that the study of law defends right answers for hard cases. It is also normative in another sense: legal answers, in easy cases as well as in hard cases, always presuppose a normative interpretation of the legal sources. This contributes to the differences of opinion under lawyers. But it is no obstacle to the scholarly character of the study of law, as long as a rational debate about these legal answers and the underlying values and principles is possible. Smith’s rejection of the right answer thesis, however, prevents the possibility of such a rational debate.


Prof. dr. Arend Soeteman
Arend Soeteman is professor at the Faculty of Law, VU University Amsterdam.
Artikel

Access_open Op de bres voor rechtszekerheid

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 1 2009
Trefwoorden rechtszekerheid, in dubio pro libertate, Brouwer, rechtspositivisme, constructivisme
Auteurs Marc Loth
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This paper addresses the principle of legal certainty, which was central in the work of Bob Brouwer. He both regretted and disputed the decline of this principle in the theory and practice of law, trying to defend it against the spirit of the time. I argue that this attempt was in vain, because it opposes recent developments in law, as is illustrated by a notorious case of the European Court of Human Rights. Moreover, these developments invoke a constructivist account of legal certainty, which opposes Brouwer’s legal positivist account. Additionally, this meta-level shows that legal certainty in its classical form is indefensible, which – of course – does not mean that it is senseless altogether. On the contrary, the principle of legal certainty does have meaning in current legal systems, and it is the task of new generations of young scholars to try to get a grip on it. In doing so, they will undoubtedly make use of Brouwer’s work, which excels both in the depth of thinking and the clarity of writing.


Marc Loth
Marc Loth is raadsheer in de Hoge Raad der Nederlanden.
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