The Purposiveness of Law: Two Concepts of Representation in the European Union

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ABSTRACT. Contemporary discussions about sovereignty and European law illustrate the general problem of accounting for the purposiveness of a legal order in a way that avoids the pitfall of foudationalism. This paper contends that the focal point of this problem is the concept of representation. First contrasting Neil MacCormick's critique of sovereignty with its defense in the Maastricht judgment rendered by the German Federal Constitutional Court, it will be argued that neither view adequately grasps the representational logic of power. Drawing on Cassirer's philosophy of symbolic forms, the paper subsequently develops a relational or functional concept of representation that recognizes the correlation between legitimate power and sovereignty, while avoiding the Court's substantialism. Finally, it discusses how the Euripean Union repeats and innovates on the representation of sovereignty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-507
Number of pages27
JournalLaw and philosophy
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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