Legal Normativity & Conventionalism

This Workshop will take place on Thursday 29th May 2014 from 1.30pm – 5.30pm in the Raeburn Room (Old College).


One of the most persistent problems in legal theory is understanding what, if anything, makes law normative – what makes it the case that we ought to comply with the law, and how (if at all) does it give us reasons for action? This is often considered to be a particularly pressing problem for those legal positivists who seek to understand law as founded on convention – in particular, a conventional ‘rule of recognition’ – as conventions are typically thought to be normatively inert.

In this workshop we’ll explore this tension and its implications for the plausibility of legal conventionalism and for the existence (and phenomenology) of law’s normative force.


1.15-1.30pm Registration

1.30-3.15pm “Conventionalism and the Hermeneutic Constraint” Prof. Federico Arena (Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Santiago). Discussant: Dr. Haris Psarras (University of Edinburgh); Chair: An-Heng Yang (University of Edinburgh).

3.15-3.45pm Tea/coffee break

3.45-5.30pm Prof. Torben Spaak (University of Stockholm): “Legal Positivism, Conventionalism, and The Normativity of Law”. Discussant: Dr. Claudio Michelon (University of Edinburgh); Chair: Martin Kelly (University of Edinburgh).






Detailed schedule to follow.