2016 Societas Ethical Annual Conference
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Careful reflection on the relation of ethics to law – and vice versa – is essential. Ethics is indispensable for law because the law can only be just insofar as it takes up ethical standards. Likewise, it is for moral reasons that ethics demands that political institutions establish, implement, and apply legal claims that are justified in and through ethical reflection. It is also important to reflect upon the scope and limits of norms and their intersection with plural hermeneutical interpretations of actions and/or practices. Furthermore, the ethical status of the (political) human rights framework must be clarified. What criteria does ethics offer for legal judgments, and what criteria does philosophy of law offer to moral reasoning? What impact does the theoretical analysis of moral and legal norms have on individual, social, and political actions? What is the role of 'understanding' or interpretation in the overall endeavor to 'judge well'? What is the moral function of the law in postmodern and globally interacting societies? Three contexts are of special interest for the discussion:
At the beginning of the 21st century, national law is complemented to a greater extent than in previous centuries by transnational, international, and global regulations and soft law, as is the case, for example, in transnational trade agreements and their related governance structures and conducts. The trend to a global ethics, global justice, and global structures of governance and institutional regulations reflects the complexity of the relation between ethics and law in a globalized world.
The European Union emerged as a community of commonly held values, now articulated in the European Charta of Fundamental Rights. However, with the arrival of about a million refugees at the borders of Europe in 2015, many moral and ethical questions about the legal frameworks of the EU have been raised. What are the implications of the current threats of human and political rights for the relation of ethics to law?
Ongoing debates concern ethical questions related to the criminal justice systems, civil law, public law, and ethics, and religious legal traditions and ethics. With respect to justice, for example, one may want to analyze the different understandings of justice, e.g. retributive, restorative, or reconciliatory justice, which shape different criminal justice institutions. We will turn to specific legal practices, both in Europe and beyond, addressing questions such as the death penalty, solitary confinement, political asylum, the disciplining effect of measures of surveillance, discrimination of minorities, or the detention of refugees, but also broader legal-ethical issues such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other related topics.
We expect contributions from philosophy, theology, and applied ethics, but also from legal theory and related disciplines.
June 30, 2016, 9:00am CET