Public reason has been one of the most discussed and controversial ideas in political philosophy ever since Rawls introduced his political liberal ideal of Public Reason in the mid-1990s. Legal scholars, too, are arguing about the merits and problems of conceiving constitutional courts as a place where the justification of public acts are assessed in terms of constitutionally embedded public reason. More recently international legal scholars have suggested that several international courts and tribunals do in fact use public reason, and that this practice helps strengthening these courts’ legitimacy.
This workshop will focus on ideals of public reason and public justification in relation to domestic and international courts and tribunals. In light of this focus, the symposium will engage participants with background from law, political philosophy and political science in discussions on how best to understand public reason in relation to these courts and in discussion about what practical impact such ideals may have in the context of adjudication.
The workshop brings together distinguished political theorists, legal scholars and political scientists to discuss public reason – understood in a broad and inclusive way – with a focus on such ideals’ relevance for domestic and international courts.
The workshop will have four panels:
Panel 1: Is there a conflict between public reason and legal reason?
The first panel addresses conceptual issues and the plurality of meanings attributed to public reason and public reasoning in the recent literature. What is meant, precisely, when someone says that a court should use, or does use, public reason? Are there conceptions of public reason and public justification that seem more appropriate than others in the context of courts? And how does public reasoning, and ideals of public justification more generally, connect with more traditional understandings of how judges should reason?
Panel 2: Public reason and constitutional interpretation
What role should public reason play in constitutional interpretation? Does constitutional interpretation provide the example par excellence of public reason? The panel will include papers discussing these issues in relation to constitutional liberal democracy, as well as contributions focusing on the relevance of public reason for Islamic jurisprudence and constitutionalism.
Panel 3: Public reason beyond the nation state: a special case?
Does our thinking about public reason and courts change when we move beyond the nation state? Is it more difficult to envisage what can count as shared or public reasons internationally? Could public reason be more important as a basis for legitimacy when we look at international courts? Should public reason for international courts build on a global constitutionalism or do conceptions of public reason have to be more minimalist when we move beyond the nation state?
Panel 4: Public reason in specific courts and tribunals
This panel invites experts on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU), the WTO panels and investment tribunals to discuss how public reason may play out for these respective courts and tribunals.
We hope that the papers from the workshop will form the basis for a special issue in an international peer-reviewed journal. Participants will be selected to enable a coherent set of contributions.
- The organizers invite abstracts for further papers on the themes of the workshop.
- Abstracts of between 500 and 750 words should be submitted via the link “Send abstract” in the upper right of http://www.jus.uio.no/pluricourts/english/news-and-events/events/2016/courts-public-reason.html. Kindly do so by April 1st 2016. If you have questions regarding this form please contact Ester Strømmen.
- Up to three papers will be chosen. Younger scholars will be given preference.
- Accommodation in Berlin, lunch and dinner will be covered for successful authors.
- Applicants will be given notice within May 1st whether or not their abstract has been selected.
- Dr. Silje Aa. Langvatn, Postdoctoral fellow in political philosophy, PluriCourts, Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, University of Oslo.
- Prof. Mattias Kumm, Director of the Rule of Law Center, WZB Social Science Research Center, Berlin and New York University School of Law.
- Wojciech Sadurski, Challis Professor in Jurisprudence, Sydney law school, University of Sydney.
PluriCourts, WZB Social Science Research Center and Sydney Law School, University of Sydney
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