Of layers and lawyers

In Miguel Garcia, Rachael Mellin & Raimo Tuomela (eds.), Social Ontology, Normativity and Philosophy of Law. Berlin: De Gruyter (forthcoming)
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Abstract
How can the law be characterized in a theory of collective intentionality that treats collective intentionality as essentially layered and tries to understand these layers in terms of the structure and the format of the representations involved? And can such a theory of collective intentionality open up new perspectives on the law and shed new light on traditional questions of legal philosophy? As a philosopher of collective intentionality who is new to legal philosophy, I want to begin exploring these questions in this paper. I will try to characterize the law in terms of the layered account of collective intentionality that I have introduced in some earlier writings (Schmitz 2013; 2018). In the light of this account I will then discuss a traditional question in the philosophy of law: the relation between law and morality. I begin by giving a brief sketch of the layered account in the next section. Collective intentionality should be understood in terms of experiencing and representing others as co-subjects, rather than as objects, of intentional states and acts on different layers or levels. I distinguish the nonconceptual layer of the joint sensory-motor-emotional intentionality of joint attention and joint bodily action, the conceptual level of shared we-mode beliefs, intentions, obligations, values, and so on, and the institutional level characterized through role differentiation, positions taken in role-mode, e.g. as a judge or attorney, and writing and other forms of documentation. In the third section I introduce a set of parameters for representations such as their degree of richness, of context-dependence, of density and differentiation of representational role and of durability and stability, which can be used to more precisely distinguish different layers. I also put forward the hypothesis that these properties are connected and tend to cluster, and that higher levels can only function and determine conditions of satisfaction against lower level ones. In the fourth and final section I critically discuss the sharp positivistic separation of morality and the law according to which whether something is a law is completely independent of its moral merits. I argue that this only seems plausible if we take an observational stance towards the law, but not towards morality. When we treat them the same way, it rather appears that the moral attitudes of the co-subjects of a society will determine whether and to what extent they will accept its legal order. I conclude by proposing to think of the law as being itself an institutionalized form of morality.
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Archival date: 2020-02-12
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