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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2014 x
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Access_open Reciprocity: a fragile equilibrium

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 2 2014
Trefwoorden reciprocity, exchange theory, natural law theory, dyadic relations, corrective justice
Auteurs Prof. dr. Pauline Westerman PhD
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Reciprocity may serve to explain or to justify law. In its latter capacity, which is the topic of this article, reciprocity is commonly turned into a highly idealized notion, as either a balance between two free and equal parties or as the possibility of communication tout court. Both ideals lack empirical reference. If sociological and anthropological literature on forms of exchange is taken into account, it should be acknowledged that reciprocal relations are easy to destabilize. The dynamics of exchange invites exclusion and inequality. For this reason reciprocity should not be presupposed as the normative underpinning of law; instead, law should be presupposed in order to turn reciprocity into a desirable ideal.


Prof. dr. Pauline Westerman PhD
Pauline Westerman is Professor in Philosophy of Law at the University of Groningen and member of staff at the Academy for Legislation in the Hague. She is editor of The Theory and Practice of Legislation, a journal published by Hart, Oxford. She writes mainly on legal methodology and legislation, especially on alternative forms of legislation. For more information as well as publications, see her personal website: <www.paulinewesterman.nl>.
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