Philosophy and Technology 28 (1):57-73 (2015)

The paper examines the realignment of the legal sources in an information society, by considering first of all the differences with the previous system of sources, dubbed as the “Westphalian model”. The current system is tripartite, rather than bipartite, for the sources of transnational law should be added to the traditional dichotomy between national and international law. In addition, the system is dualistic, rather than monistic, because the tools of legal constructivism, such as codes or statutes, have to be complemented with the rules of customary law and contracts. In light of the canonical version of the law as a set of commands enforced through the threat of physical sanctions, however, two further novelties must be stressed, namely the soft law-tools of governance as a source of the system and the aim to embed normative constraints into technology, in order to enforce the law through the use of filtering systems, self-enforcing technologies, etc. This latter approach impacts on functions and requirements of the system, by transferring the normative side of the law from the traditional “ought to” of legal commands to what actually is on the basis of automatic techniques, thus affecting the very notion of source. The overall aim of the paper is to show that rearrangements of the legal sources are intertwined with redistributions of power and hence, a normative standpoint is needed, so as to determine whether scholars can obtain the solution that best justifies the integrity of the law before its hard cases, or the answer is a reasonable compromise between many conflicting interests
Keywords Complexity  Customary law  Design  Governance  Information ethics  Self-enforcing technologies  Social norms  Soft law  Sources of law  Transnational law  Westphalian paradigm
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DOI 10.1007/s13347-015-0188-9
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