Phil. of Law & Social Phil. – Legal Fictions; Exemplary Narratives – Frankfurt am Main

Goethe-Universität hosts XXV. World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy Aug. 15-20, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main. The theme is Law, Science and Technology.

Included will be workshops on Legal Fictions and on Exemplary Narratives: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Both have issued calls for papers. The deadline for short abstracts is April 1, 2011.

Included will be a workshop on ‘Legal Fictions.’ Deadline for short abstracts: 1 April 2011.

In his unduly neglected series of articles on ‘Legal Fictions’ (1930-1), Lon Fuller noted that ‘the fiction has generally been regarded as something of which the law ought to be ashamed, and yet with which the law cannot, as yet, dispense’ (1930, 364). The role of ‘fictions’ in the law is a topic of direct relevance to this year’s IVR Congress theme, ‘Law, Science and Technology.’ After all, some might argue that there is no room for fictions in science: one does not assume anything in scientific practice; one tests it, and if the same effect cannot be reproduced by the same causes, then it ceases to be assertable or usable as a fact. If this be so, and if law does depend on fictions, then this introduces more than an interesting tension between law and science; it makes law irreducible to science, or it at least makes law largely impervious to the charms of science (felt so keenly in other domains, e.g. consider the rise of experimental philosophy).

The topic of legal fictions also introduces other themes that cut across the practices of law, science and technology, e.g. the concept of evidence and the practice of proof. For instance, a focus on legal fictions might offer a way to articulate the evidentiary structure of legal concepts that reveals that legal concepts perform wildly different functions to scientific models. If it is true legal concepts have evidentiary targets, and that these targets are supported by evidentiary platforms, i.e. circumstances that warrant the making of a reasonable inference that such a target has been met, and if it can be shown that such targets are ones that would be impossible to prove in a way that would satisfy scientific standards, then this raises yet another way to see the fundamental difference between the practice of law and the practice of science. Once again, on the back of the concept of legal fictions, we come to see that what law ‘tests for’ is not at all what science sees as capable of being tested.

Taking its initial cue from Fuller’s series of articles, but broadening out its themes to questions concerning a comparison of the concept of evidence and the practice of proof in the domains of law and science, this workshop welcomes papers on any aspect of legal fictions. Papers responding directly to Fuller’s series of articles will be particularly well received. Are Fuller’s arguments relevant today? Can we still, in this era of enthusiasm for naturalism, speak of legal fictions? And if we can speak of
legal fictions, then what does this show us about the limits of science, or the aims of law? Are legal concepts tests in wholly different ways to scientific hypotheses? Is legal reasoning, partly as a result of the employment of legal fictions, a world apart from scientific reasoning? If they are worlds apart, can law and science ever learn from each other, and if so how exactly? What do legal fictions tell us about the increasing reliance placed, in some domains of the law, on expert scientific witnesses? Are legal fictions the last bastion of defence against the inroads of science in law, e.g. of the uses made of neuroscience in the criminal
law? Or does talk of ‘inroads’ smack only of traditionalism and conservatism, or, worse, unseemly protection of legal professional interests?

Speakers will include: Professor William Twining and Professor Burkhard Schafer

Recommended reading: Fuller, Lon. (1930) ‘Legal Fictions’, Illinois Law Review, 363-399; 513-546; and 877-910

Deadline for draft titles and short abstracts (required for initial selection to present at the workshop): 1 April 2011

Deadline for extended abstract / short papers (for accepted papers): 15 July 2011

Deadline for full drafts if publication pursued: 1 February 2012 (Publication in an edited collection with an established publisher will be discussed at the end of the workshop)

Organiser: Dr. Maksymilian Del Mar (

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Included will be a workshop on ‘Exemplary Narratives: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.’ Deadline for short abstracts: 1 April 2011.

This interdisciplinary workshop – welcoming contributions from legal theory, literary theory, history and theology – will explore the notion of ‘exemplary narratives’. ‘Exemplary’ is here understood in two senses: first, the sense in which certain narratives take on a paradigmatic, leading or model status and function; and second, the sense in which narratives can, and arguably often do, have a normative content, inviting or inciting, and thereafter guiding, persons to certain beliefs, attitudes and actions.

The first sense of exemplary may be explored in a variety of ways, including: the way in which certain cases, understood as narrative fact-complexes, constitute the epicentre of certain areas of the law (e.g. Donoghue vs. Stevenson in the common law of torts, but see also Simpson’s Leading Cases in the Common Law, 1995); the way in which the authoritative content of leading cases changes as a result of encounters with new facts; the history of narrative revolutions, or the way in which previously-exemplary narratives are replaced by new ones; the way in which certain narrative fact-complexes are more memorable than others, and thus may offer a particularly effective mode of transmission of certain content, e.g. ideas, rules or principles; the emotional content or structure of those narratives that come to play leading roles; and the history of the way in which certain narratives come to adopted by certain communities and set up as role models to be imitated.

The second sense of exemplary offers an equally rich opportunity, enabling, for instance, research into: the varying degrees of prescriptivity in different literary forms or genres, e.g. compare fables and parables, where the former tend to be more moralistic and the latter more normatively ambiguous; the ways in which certain narratives are drawn on as sources for analogical extension, featuring as part of the discourse of justification in conflict resolution; the ways in which certain narratives may come to structure the cognitive attention of decision-makers, guiding them to notice and classify as important or significant certain kinds of fact-complexes; and the manners in which some narratives appear to be so ambiguous (perhaps sometimes as a result of the adoption of certain tones, such as irony) that they are bereft of prescriptivity, but remain full of opportunity for self-knowledge and perhaps self-transformation.

The workshop understands ‘narratives’ broadly to include not only textual narratives, but also narrative pictures and narrative performances, and is thus open to contributions from, e.g. art history, film and theatre, etc.

Although, ideally, papers presented at the workshop will focus on either or both senses of ‘exemplary narratives’ noted above, the workshop also welcomes papers on the general theme of the lessons to be drawn for any account of legal epistemology from research into narratives in other disciplines, especially literary theory, history and theology.

Deadline for short abstracts: 1 April 2011

Deadline for extended abstract / short papers (for accepted papers): 15 July 2011

Speakers to include (subject to final confirmation): Dr. Randy Gordon (author of Rehumanizing Law, 2010) Dr. Audun Kjus (author of Stories at Trial, 2011); Dr. Moshe Simon-Shoshan (author of Stories of the Law, 2011)

Organisers: Dr. Randy Gordon ( and Dr. Maksymilian Del Mar(