A realistic vision? Roberto Unger on law and politics

Res Publica 5 (2):139-159 (1999)
Abstract
This paper considers Roberto Unger's views on legal reasoning. His account is defended against two misplaced attacks. The first critique is by Emilios Christodoulidis. Using the language of systems theory, Christodoulidis contends that Unger's programme of democratic experimentalism cannot be achieved through law, as the constitutive structure of the legal system is immune to politics. Christodoulidis accuses Unger of attempting to reduce law to politics. It will be argued, however, that Unger does no such thing. The second attack holds that Unger's criticisms of objectivism apply to his own democratic vision and that, as a result, he cannot promote this vision without self-contradiction. Again, it will be argued that this criticism rests on a misunderstanding of Unger's views. The paper concludes with a tentative objection to the substantive proposals of Unger's work, suggesting that they ought to be replaced by a pluralist account of value.
Keywords Unger  systems theory  objectivism
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