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Diverse Narratives of Legal Objectivity

An Interdisciplinary Perspective

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Edited By Vito Breda and Lidia Rodak

This volume presents a collection of essays on objectivity in legal discourse. Has law a distinctive type of objectivity? Is there one specific type of legal objectivity or many, depending on the observatory language utilized? Is objectivity fit for law? The analyses in the various contributions show that the Cartesian paradigm of objectivity is not relevant to the current legal discourse, and new forms of legal objectivity are revealed instead. Each essay, in its distinctive way, analyses the strong commitment of law to objectivity, shedding light on the controversies that surround it.
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Vito Breda, Lidia Rodak - Introduction

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Introduction

Objectivity is an inherently complex philosophical concept and, as such, it is a continually recurring theme in philosophical and jurisprudential debates. One of the fundamental questions, still surrounded in controversy, is whether objectivity is a “self-generated” universal concept that transcends local discourse. If so, how can it be philosophically justifiable, and what part, if any, does the jurisprudential debate play in such a discourse? Although these questions may appear a bit naive nowadays, they express the ambitions and power of the concept of objectivity. On one hand, it represents the desire for truth, akin to Kant’s “things in themselves”, something fixed and eternal. On the more negative side, objectivity interpreted as the narration of a timeless universal truth is associated with its power to impose authority from above.

In “The Structure of Scientific Revolution”, Thomas Kuhn claimed: “that there is no representation of facts without an observatory language, and there is no observatory language which is “theory free’”. Under this system, a rejection of objectivity in its strong sense seems inevitable. In line with this way of thinking, social sciences have adopted the concept of intersubjectivity in place of objectivity, which seems better suited to humanities in general. Law and legal discourse, however, which play central roles in organizing human society, remain strongly committed to the notion of objectivity, despite all the controversy that surrounds it. The rationale behind this is far from straightforward. It is not at all clear whether law...

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