Karl Popper and the Reconstruction of Progressive Politics
8. Law without Sovereignty 187
Chapter 8 Law without Sovereignty This chapter will examine three loosely integrated components of Popper’s political philosophy. The first section considers the principles at the heart of a Popperian theory of law. The next four sections identify and evaluate elements of Popper’s treatment of non-sovereign democratic practice and representation. The antepenultimate and penultimate sections review Popper’s commentary on international relations and his cosmopolitan commitment to peace and human rights. The final section purports to tie together the chapter, and indeed the book, with an anticipation of a borderless culture of legal principle: a humanitarian jus commune. Conscience and the Rule of Law As noted in the earlier discussion on the idea of justice (chapter 5), Popper robustly rejected positivist and historical-entitlement theories of ethics and law. One may assemble from Popper’s writings an incomplete theory of democratic legality comprised principally of two explicit elements: 1) a principle of conscientious objection and publication and 2) a principle of institutionalized protection of equal liberty. It may be noted at the outset that a more complete Popperian jurisprudence would require supplementation by at least two further elements: A) a principle of legal interpretation and B) a principle equity jurisdiction. [It is my intention to explore these additional standards in a subsequent work. I note now only that a Popperian approach to legal interpretation may lurk unrecognized yet implicit in Popper’s theory of objective knowledge and the evolutionary approach integral to it. Popper may have abstained from developing a contribution to jurisprudence, in part,...
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