Can There Be an Artifact Theory of Law?
Ratio Juris, Vol. 29, Issue 3, pp. 385-401, 2016
30 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2013 Last revised: 21 Feb 2017
Date Written: September 16, 2013
The paper aims at attempting an inquiry into what the claim that 'law' by its nature or character is an artifact, in fact, would entail and what, in the end, an artifact theory of law might look like. Before embarking on such an inquiry, I will, however, first try to indicate at least some potential payoffs of the artifactual understanding of law (Section 2). In order to be able to answer certain ontological questions concerning legal systems as artifact kinds, I will outline in what follows a general theory of artifacts (Section 3). I will do this by exploring several theories of artifacts developed in general philosophy, drawing mostly on those of R. Hilpinen, A. L. Thomasson, L. R. Baker and P. Bloom, since their theories present themselves as general theories of artifacts, capable of being applied to any artifact kind. Furthermore, since I take legal systems to be institutional in character, and thus different from 'ordinary' artifacts, I will introduce certain elements of social (institutional) ontology and set the ontological grounds for 'institutional artifacts' as a distinct artifact type (Section 4). This will form the basis of a rough sketch of what an artifact theory of law might look like and what the challenges for such a theory might be (Section 5).
Keywords: artifacts, institutional ontology, legal system, legal theory, artifact theory of law
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