Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Law, language, and knowledge: Legal transplants from a cultural perspective

  • Julio Carvalho
Abstract

In this Article, I have analyzed the philosophical grounds on which stands the conception of law implied in legal transplants. On the one hand, behind the idea of legal transplants lurks the misleading assumption that two different legal cultures share common epistemological accounts of what is meant by law; on the other, the idea that a certain legal institution verbally framed may be exported to another culture and touch off similar interpretations and conceptual performances reflects, at its core, a conception of language based on an isomorphic correspondence between legal words and the meanings those words are to stand for. My goal has been to critically expose the philosophical backdrop that lies behind the conception of law implied in the idea of a legal transplant with an eye to the cultural perspective. To this end, I have availed myself of different but convergent perspectives gathered from Wittgenstein’s pragmatic philosophy of language, Geertz’s cultural anthropology, Eco’s semiology, Harris’ integrational epistemology, and Rosen’s cultural theory of law, as a methodological strategy to spotlight different facets of the problem in three dimensions: Language, knowledge, and law.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Law, language, and knowledge: Legal transplants from a cultural perspective
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Law, language, and knowledge: Legal transplants from a cultural perspective
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Law, language, and knowledge: Legal transplants from a cultural perspective
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Julio Carvalho has completed Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Legal Theory, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Law School, where he works as a doctoral researcher since March 2018. Email: juliocarvalho.adv@gmail.com

Footnotes
References
Hide All

1 See generally Mark Van Hoecke, Legal Culture and Legal Transplants, in Law, Society and Community. Socio-Legal Essays in Honour of Roger Cotterrell 273–91 (Nobles Richard & Schiff David eds., 2014).

2 See generally Alan Watson, Legal Transplants: An Approach to Comparative Law (1993); Alan Watson, Comparative Law and Legal Change, 37 Cambridge L.J. 313 (1978).

3 Pierre Legrand, The Impossibility of “Legal Transplants”, 4 Maastricht J. Eur. & Comp. L. 111 (1997).

4 Lawrence Rosen, Law As Culture: An Invitation 42 (2006).

5 Gunther Teubner, Legal Irritants: How Unifying Law Ends up in New Divergences, in Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage 441 (Peter A. Hall & David Soskice eds., 2001). In this paper, wherein Gunther Teubner analyses the transplantation of the continental principle of bona fides directly into the body of British contract law via the European Consumer Protection Directive 1994, he states at 418: “Legal institutions cannot be easily moved from one context to another, like the ‘transfer’ of a part from one machine into another (Kahn-Freund 1978). They need careful implantation and cultivation in the new environment. But ‘transplant’ creates the wrong impression that after a difficult surgical operation the transferred material will remain identical with itself, playing its old role in the new organism.” According to the author, at 418: “Legal irritants cannot be domesticated, they are not transformed from something alien into something familiar, not adapted to a new cultural context, rather they will unleash an evolutionary dynamics in which the external rule’s meaning will be reconstructed and the internal context will undergo fundamental change.”

6 Id. at 426.

7 Thomas Vesting, Preface to the Brazilian edition of Teoria do Direito: uma introdução 19 (2015).

8 Rosen, supra note 4, at 3.

9 Id. at 4.

10 G.P. Baker & P.M.S. Hacker, Wittgenstein: Rules, Grammar and Necessity: Vol. II of An Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigation, Essays and Exegesis of §§ 185–242. Vol. II, 224 (2d ed. 2009).

11 Thomas Vesting, Die Medien des Rechts: Sprache 47 (2011).

12 See id. at 48.

13 See Umberto Eco, Confessions of a Young Novelist 42 (2011).

14 See Vesting, supra note 11, at 52 („Praktisch gesehen schließt der sprachliche Zeichengebrauch daher immer an einen Bestand bereits überlieferter Informationen und Traditionen an, er erfolgt stets in bestimmten Bahnen oder ‚Trajektorien‘, sonst wäre Kollektives Lern undenkbar und alle kulturelle Evolution ein unerklärliches Mirakel.“)

15 Louise Rayar, Conference Paper, Translating Legal Texts: A Methodology, 5 (1993), in Geoffrey Samuel, Epistemology and Method in Law 40 (2003).

16 Geoffrey Samuel, Epistemology and Method in Law 40 (2003).

17 Rosen, supra note 4, at 6–7.

18 Thomas Vesting, O Direito Moderno e a Crise do Conhecimento Comum, in Cadernos FGV Direito Rio, vol. I. Teorias Contemporâneas do Direito: o Direito e as Incertezas Normativas 29 (Pedro Fortes, Ricardo Campos & Samuel Barbosa eds., 2017).

19 Niklas Luhmann, Law as a Social System 125 (Klaus A. Ziegert trans., 2004) But Luhmann’s account departs from that statement to sustain, after, that “[t]he unfolding of the tautology ‘law is valid law’ by a distinction of several levels of regulation is grounded on the fact of social differentiation, that is, the differentiation of the legal system from within the social system.” Such a normative demarcation of the linguistic boundaries of the social systems will not be endorsed in this text.

20 Clifford Geertz, Off Echoes: Some Comments on Anthropology and Law, 19 Pol. & Legal Anthropology Rev. 33, 35 (1996), in Rosen, supra note 4, at 8.

21 See Geoffrey Samuel, Epistemology and Comparative Law, in Epistemology and Methodology of Comparative Law 61 (Mark Van Hoeck ed. 2004).

22 Karl R. Popper, Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach 106 et seq. (1974).

23 Thomas Vesting, Rechtstheorie: Ein Studienbuch 115 (2015) („Die Frage zu beantworten, ob und wenn ja, auf welche Weise es heute überhaupt noch Sinn macht und gegebenenfalls Sinn machen könnte, von einer spezifischen „Geltung“ oder „Normativität“ des Rechts zu sprechen, ist sicherlich eine der größten Herausforderungen der gegenwärtigen Rechstheorie.“).

24 Rosen, supra note 4, at 67.

25 Id. at 11.

26 John Searle, The Construction of Social Reality 75 (1995).

27 Id. at 59; John Searle, Making the Social World 63 (2010).

28 H.L.A Hart, The Concept of Law 12 (2d ed. 1997).

29 John Searle, Making the Social World 62 (2010).

30 Id. at 5.

31 Id. at 61.

32 Id. at 90 (emphasis added) (“We live in a sea of human institutional facts. Much of this is invisible to us. Just as it is hard for the fish to see the water in which they swim, so it is hard for us to see the institutionality in which we swim. Institutional facts are without exception constituted by language, but the functioning of language is especially hard to see …. What I mean is that we are not conscious of the role of language in constituting social reality.”).

33 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations 47e, § 89 (G. E. M. Anscombe, P. M. S. Hacker & Joachim Schulte trans., 2009).

34 Searle, supra note 26, at 9 (“Historically in our intellectual tradition we make great distinctions between mind and body and between nature and culture. In the section on Fundamental Ontology, I tacitly abandoned the traditional dualistic conception of the relation of mind and body in favor of the view that the mind is just a set of higher-level features of the brain, a set of features that are at once ‘mental’ and ‘physical.’ We will use the ‘mental,’ so construed, to show how ‘culture’ is constructed out of ‘nature.’”).

35 Id. at 68 (emphasis added) (“Without language, we can see the man cross a white line holding ball, and without language we can want a man to cross a white line holding a ball. But we cannot see the man score six points or want the man to score six points without language, because points are not something that can be thought of or that can exist independently of words or other sorts of markers. And what is true of points in games is true of money, governments, private property, etc.”).

36 See also id. at 135 (providing a similar example).

37 Id.

38 Baker & Hacker, supra note 10, at 56.

39 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value 1e (Peter Winch trans., 1984).

40 Marie Mcginn, Wittgenstein and the Philosophical Investigations 195 (1997) (emphasis added).

41 See Donald K. Barry, Forms of Life and Following Rules: A Wittgensteinian Defense of Relativism 68 (1996) (emphasis added).

42 See P. M. S. Hacker & G. P. Baker, Language, Sense and Nonsense: A Critical Investigation into Modern Theories of Language 25 et seq. (1986). For Frege, natural language was “rife with vagueness, ambiguity, lack of logical perspicuity, and, indeed, logical incoherence. To a large degree he identified as ‘logical defects’ in a language those features of it which fail to correspond with the articulations of his concept-script …. The old idea of isomorphism between a form of representation and thought or reality was, however, resuscitated by the invention of a much improved logical calculus. This idea too was to bear fruit in the next stage in this history. It is noteworthy that the invention of powerful formal calculi gave impetus to the ‘biplanar’ or Augustinian conception of language …. This became even clearer in the reflections of Russel, who pursued further Frege’s vision of reducing arithmetic to logic, and who developed further the formal apparatus of a rich function-theoretic calculus.”

43 See id. at 39.

44 See Wittgenstein, supra note 33.

45 See Roy Harris, The Language Myth 27 et seq. (1981).

46 Gilbert Ryle, Systematically Misleading Expressions, in Logic Lane: Collected Essays 1929-1968, Vol. 2, at 62 (2009).

47 Harris, supra note 45, at 27.

48 See G.P. Baker & P.M.S. Hacker, Wittgenstein: Understanding and Learning: Vol. 1 of An Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations, Part I: Essays, at 16–17 (2d ed. 2009).

49 Id. at 16.

50 Id. at 16.

51 Harris, supra note 45, at 1 (“Our attempts to understand language seem to be at the mercy of words, but words are designed primarily for purposes other than that. Here straight away, it might seem, we see lucidly identified for us one of the main sources of the difficulties which threaten to thwart whatever attempts man make to reflect analytically upon this process of creative renewal which is language. Words, the product of that process, obscures the process itself.”).

52 Id. at 204.

53 Wittgenstein, supra note 39, at 11e.

54 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophy of Psychology—A fragment vi, in Philosophical Investigations, supra note 33, at 52e, § 109.

55 Roy Harris, After Epistemology 8 (2009).

56 Id.

57 Roy Harris, Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein: How to Play Games with Words 126 (1988) (“Words are at the same time cultural facts, metalinguistic posits and conceptual tools. Hence to draw the empirical/non-empirical distinction for discourse about language within the framework of that paradigm [of science] becomes intrinsically problematic. It involves the paradoxical enterprise of trying to go beyond and yet keep within the limits of language.”).

58 Aristotle, De Interpretatione, in The Basic Works of Aristotle 40 (Richard McKeon ed., 2001) (“Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience and written words are the symbols of spoken words. Just as all men have not the same writing, so all men have not the same speech sounds, but the mental experiences, which these directly symbolize, are the same for all, as also are those things of which our experiences are the images.”).

59 See Harris, supra note 55, at 11 et seq.

60 See Hacker & Baker, supra note 42, at 17 et seq.

61 Wittgenstein, supra note 53, at 5 § 1.

62 Id. at 190e § 35.

63 Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue and Brown Books: Preliminary Studies for the Philosophical Investigations 6 (1965).

64 Id. at 41.

65 See Stanley Cavell, Declining Decline: Wittgenstein As a Philosopher of Culture, in Stanley Cavell, This New Yet Unapproachable America: Lectures after Emerson after Wittgenstein (1989).

66 Wittgenstein, supra note 33, at 52e, § 108.

67 Hacker & Baker, supra note 42, at 12–13.

68 Roy Harris, The Role of the Language Myth in the Western Cultural Tradition, in The Language Myth in Western Culture 1 (Roy Harris ed., 2013).

69 Wittgenstein, supra note 33, at 135e, § 432.

70 Id. at 8e, § 7.

71 See generally Danilo Marcondes, As Armadilhas da Linguagem (2017).

72 Karl-Heinz Ladeur, Die Textualität des Rechts—Zur poststrukturalistischen Kritik des Rechst 154 (2016).

73 Eco, supra note 13, at 42.

74 Umberto Eco, Metaphor, Dictionary, and Encyclopedia, 15 New Literary History 255 (1984).

75 Umberto Eco, A Theory of Semiotics 28 (1977).

76 See Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays 12–27 (Fontana Press 1993) (1973).

77 Karl Eibl, Animal Poeta: Bausteine der biologischen Kultur- und Literaturtheorie 22 (2004) („bei der symbolisch-kommunikativen Kultur, ist auch der Platz für Geertz‘ Bild vom »Bedeutungsgewebe.« Erst mit der Sprache, genauer: mit dem Gegenstandsbezug der Sprache und mit der auf ihm aufbauenden Vergegenständlichung von Begriffen können kulturelle Vorräte—Informationen und Regeln—exosomatisch gespeichert werden, und das wiederum ist Voraussetzung für die kaskadierende (kumulative) Vermehrung von technisch-kulturellen Elementen über die Generationen hin.“).

78 Geertz, supra note 76, at 47.

79 Harris, supra note 55, at 80 (“Just as every sign presupposes a context, every item of knowledge presupposes a context. There are no free-floating, contextless items of knowledge. There are no processes of knowing that exist independently of what is known. Knowledge, thus understood, is a form of activity.”).

80 Wittgenstein, supra note 33, at 94e, § 242.

81 Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species 443 (Gillian Beer ed., Oxford Univ. Press 2008) (1859).

82 Umberto Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language 88 (1984) (“Every discourse on metaphor originates in a radical choice: either (a) language is by nature, and originally, metaphorical, and the mechanism of metaphor establishes linguistic activity, every rule or convention arising thereafter in order to discipline, to reduce (and impoverish) the metaphorizing potential that defines man as symbolic animal; or (b) language (and every other semiotic system) is a rule-governed mechanism, a predictive machine that says which phases can be generated and which not, and which from those able to be generated are ‘good’ or ‘correct’, or endowed with sense; a machine with regard to which the metaphor constitutes a breakdown, a malfunction, an unaccountable outcome, but at the same time the drive toward linguistic renewal.”).

83 Hans Blumenberg, Paradigms for a Metaphorology 2 (Robert Savage trans. 2010).

84 Aristotle, Rhetoric 127 (C. D. C. Reeve trans., Hackett Publ’g Comp. 2018).

85 Wittgenstein, supra note 33, at 207e, § 140.

86 Id.

87 Id. at 215e, § 191.

88 Id. at 217e, § 216.

89 Eco, supra note 82, at 127.

90 Id. at 102.

91 Id.

92 John Searle, Intentionality 149 (1983).

93 Eco, supra note 82, at 127.

94 George Lakoff & Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By 4 (1980).

95 Id. at 7–8.

96 Barry, supra note 41, at 73.

97 Harris, supra note 55, at 2.

98 Id. at 87.

99 Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, On Historicizing Epistemology: An Essay 24 (David Fernbach trans., 2010).

100 Id. at 28.

101 Id. at 22.

102 Id. at 24.

103 Id. at 29.

104 Id.

105 Id. at 31.

106 Id. at 32.

107 Harris, supra note 55, at 102.

108 See Bernard Williams, Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry 48 et seq. (Routledge 2005).

109 Id. at 48.

110 See generally Thomas Nagel, The View from Nowhere (1986).

111 Harris, supra note 55, at 162.

112 Rheinberger, supra note 99, at 28.

113 Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy 257 (1998).

114 Id. at 264.

115 Harris, supra note 55, at 128.

116 Polanyi, supra note 113, at 266.

117 Michael Polanyi, (2009). The Tacit Dimension 7 (2009).

118 Popper, supra note 22, at 109.

119 Id. at 4.

120 Gilbert Ryle, Knowing How and Knowing That, in Logic Lane, supra note 46, at 228.

121 Polanyi, supra note 117, at 17.

122 See generally Rheinberger, supra note 99.

123 Ryle, supra note 120, at 235.

124 Id. at 234.

125 Hacker & Baker, supra note 42, at 341.

126 Ryle, supra note 120, at 228.

127 Brian Leiter, Legal Realism, Hard Positivism, and the Limits of Conceptual Analysis, in Hart’s Postscript: Essays on the Postscript to The Concept of Law 369 (Jules Coleman ed., 2d ed. 2001).

128 Rosen, supra note 4, at 24.

129 Id. at 24.

130 Id. at 30.

131 Id. at 32.

132 Roy Harris & Christopher Hutton, Definition in Theory and Practice: Language, Lexicography and the law 141 (2007).

133 Rosen, supra note 4, at xiii (preface).

134 Id. at 127.

135 Hart, supra note 28, at 130.

136 Harris & Hutton, supra note 132, at 146.

137 Id. at 146.

138 Rosen, supra note 4, at 127.

139 Id. at 142.

140 Id.

141 Id. at 142–43.

142 Michael Toolan, The Language Myth and the Law, in The Language Myth in Western Culture 162 (Roy Harris ed., 2013)

143 Hart, supra note 28, at 129–30.

144 Id. at 130.

145 Polanyi, supra note 117, at 20.

146 Vesting, supra note 7, at 16.

147 Hans Kelsen, General Theory of Law and State 42 (Anders Wedberg trans. 2007).

148 Vesting, supra note 23, at 115.

149 Rosen, supra note 4, at xii (preface).

150 Robert Cover, Foreword: Nomos and Narrative, 97 Harv. L. Rev. 4, 5 (1983).

151 Harris, supra note 55, at 80.

152 Clifford Geertz, Available Light: Anthropological Reflections on Philosophical Topics 150 (2001).

153 Rosen, supra note 4, at 126.

154 Geertz, supra note 152, at 152.

155 Clifford Geertz, Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretative Anthropology 167 (2000).

156 Toolan, supra note 142, at 162.

* Julio Carvalho has completed Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Legal Theory, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Law School, where he works as a doctoral researcher since March 2018. Email:

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

German Law Journal
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2071-8322
  • URL: /core/journals/german-law-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed