Archive of Events

Archive of Events

Host: MPI-CSL in cooperation with the Department of Political Science and Philosophy of Law at the University of Freiburg

About the Nature and Value of Conceptual Legal Scholarship

Guest Lecture
The lecture pursues two goals. First, Christian Bumke aims to compare how German legal doctrine and a pluralistic approach, known as the “New Private Law Theory” in the USA, can be used to think about and work with the law. Bumke will argue that, while there are considerable differences between the two, they can be understood as two variants of the same general approach towards legal scholarship, which he calls “conceptual legal scholarship”. His second goal consists in developing a reflection on methodol­ogy. For this purpose, he examines the differences within con­cep­tual legal scholarship. He wishes to show that very different academic activities are pursued both within legal doctrine and New Private Law scholarship. Bumke will make a distinction between two different types of conceptual legal scholarship. On the one hand, there are approaches that aim to explain a certain legal phenomenon; on the other hand, one finds approaches that aim to understand the law’s normative content. He will argue that differentiating between the two perspectives is important because they respond to different expectations and have to conform to different standards. [more]

Evidentiary Standards, Human Fallibility, and Conviction Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Guest Lecture
In a lead­ing rul­ing on the stand­ard of proof, the Fed­er­al Court of Justice stated in 1970 that judges must be con­vinced to a “de­gree of cer­tainty” that need not quite be “bey­ond all reas­on­able doubt” but should go bey­ond a mere “prob­ab­il­ity bor­der­ing on cer­tain­ty.” The former is not re­quired by the law of evid­ence; the lat­ter is not suf­fi­cient (Rul­ing of the Fed­er­al Court of Justice in Civil Cases [BGHZ] 53, 245 ff.). From an epi­stem­o­lo­gic­al point of view, cla­ri­fic­a­tion is needed as to wheth­er a doxast­ic ap­proach fits in­to this nar­row con­struct. The BGH rul­ing refers to “con­vic­tion”, the “truth of an as­ser­tion”, and the re­quired “de­gree of cer­tainty”, but it does not ad­dress the con­cept of know­ledge, in which these ele­ments con­verge and are re­lated to each oth­er. In epi­stem­o­logy, it is dis­puted wheth­er or not hu­man fal­lib­il­ity, which is ir­re­voc­able, can be re­con­ciled with the as­sump­tion that hu­mans are cap­able of ac­quir­ing know­ledge. The lec­ture out­lines the ten­ets of a fal­lib­il­ist­ic concept of know­ledge and com­pares the chal­lenge of de­term­in­ing a suf­fi­cient level for the stand­ard of evid­ence to the epi­stem­o­lo­gic­al chal­lenge of re­con­cil­ing “to err is hu­man” with the claim to know­ledge. [more]
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