The Grounds of Scots Law

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Venue: room 207, The Square 10, until 4:30; Halliday Room Room for last talk.

2:00 - 3:00:Stephen Bogle

"Who should assist the King's administration of justice, the jurist or judge?: Mackenzie and Stair's theories of law and authority"

2:15 - 3:15: Stephan Leuenberger and George Pavlakos

"Positivism reconsidered"


4:30 - 5:30: Triantafyllos Gkouvas

"Law and the Communicative A Priori"




Stephen Bogle: "Who should assist the King's administration of justice, the jurist or judge?: Mackenzie and Stair's theories of law and authority"

In this talk, I will describe how research over the last twenty years has uncovered the depth and complexity of Sir George Mackenzie (163?–1691) and Viscount Stair's (1619-1695) approach to law's authority. Law's dependence on sovereignty was central for both men but each approaches their answer in very different ways. During my talk, I will try to develop further on this recent research demonstrating Stair's reliance on quasi-metaphysical theological ideas of law's authority and Mackenzie's use of history, Roman law and legal humanist insight. Mackenzie and Stair were undoubtedly towering legal figures in Scotland during a key stage in European history when modern notions of a nation-state, sovereignty, and the nature of positive law were being formed. Arguably, it could be said that they represent a stage in the development of two strands of thinking (of many others) which are part of the fabric of modern legal ideas in Scotland as well as European and Anglo-American legal cultures more generally.  


Triantafyllos Gkouvas: "Law and the Communicative A Priori"

In this paper I shall argue that behind Mark Greenberg’s progressively refined advocacy of the relevance of value for the determination of legal content there lies an unarticulated transcendental, in the Kantian sense, argument about the necessary conditions of the possibility of normative communication. The idea I will try to flesh out and cautiously associate with many of Greenberg’s remarks about the limits of linguistic communication in law is that the relevance of communicative-linguistic facts for how legal content is determined can only be settled by appeal to normative facts that transcend the symbolic level—that is, the level of ordinary language and its communicative use. It is precisely in this regard that I will venture to re-articulate Greenberg’s project as being about the possibility of the communicative a priori, or, in flashier terms, the possibility of language-independent knowledge in law. Consequently, I shall argue that in much the same way that Kant argued for the possibility of a self-disciplined transcendence of empirical cognition, Greenberg wants to keep open the avenue for a principled transcendence of linguistic communication in law. Describing this move in these terms will allow me to take the liberty of concluding this paper with an explanation of why Greenberg’s jurisprudential project is a novel case of transcendental pragmatism, that is, a variant of pragmatism that acknowledges the existence of boundaries in linguistic communication that are symbolically or communicatively a priori in the sense that they are self-imposed by us qua rational addressees of normatively relevant information.