Remarks on Andreas Abegg's paper 'From the Social Contract to a Social Contract Law

Author:Maurizio Borghi
Pages:31-31
SUMMARY

The fact that a big, tacit social contract crumbles into a multitude of tiny explicit contracts, which govern a load of social duties, relationships and behaviours, is a striking and enigmatic phenomenon. A similar Zergliederung [dissection] undoubtedly occurs in many other areas of the Law, producing the overall effect of a "law-saturated society." However, the most relevant feature in this... (see full summary)

 
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ANCILLAIURIS(anci.ch)2008:31Comment 31
Abegg’spaperaddressesonphenomenathatweare
barelyabletomeasure,andwithrespecttowhichitwould
beanexaggerationtotrytohaveanallembracingunder
standing.Thus,thisisjustapreliminary,andnotadefini
tivestatement.
Ishallgostraighttowhat,inmyview,seemstobethe
heartofthematter.
Thefactthatabig,tacitsocialcontract(Rousseau)crum
blesintoamultitudeoftinyexplicitcontracts,whichgovern
aloadofsocialduties,relationshipsandbehaviours,isa
strikingandenigmaticphenomenon.AsimilarZer
gliederung[dissection]undoubtedlyoccursinmanyother
areasoftheLaw,producingtheoveralleffectofa“lawsat
uratedsociety.”However,themostrelevantfeatureinthis
processisnottheastonishingshiftfromonelegalparadigm
toanother,butthemostlyunnoticedemergenceofthe
traitoffunctionality.Thetwoinstancesareproperlytermed
functionalequivalent:socialcontractontheonehand,and
multiplecontractsbetween“politics”and“society”onthe
other.Butwhatisthefunctionaccordingtowhichtheequiv
alencebetweenthetwofiguresiseventuallymeasured?The
pointisthatthischaracteroffunctionalitydoesnotobeyto
aneutral,exogenousunitofmeasurementaccordingto
whichalldifferentlegalsystemscanbecompared.Instead,
functionalityistheleadingtraitofthesole“multiplecon
tract”system,andthusofthemushroomingofcontractual
figuresandformsofsociopoliticalcontractsthatareanaly
sedinpartIIIofthepaper.Therefore,itisonlyinthelight
ofsuchoutcomesthatthetraditionalsocialcontract
appearstobeafunctionalequivalent.Yet,socialcontract
andcases(Fallkonstellationen)ofcontractsareperseincom
mensurableinstances.
Thisdoesnotmean,however,thatthetraitoffunction
alityisnotalreadypresent(thoughinaconcealedway)
withinthetheoryofthesocialcontract.Toacertainextent,
thefactofassertingthattheessentialformofhuman
Miteinandersein[togetherness]isacontractimplicitlymeans
toconsiderhumanbeings,notashavinganendinthem
selves(Kant),butasbeingfunctionaltooneanother.Asa
matteroffact,theLatinlanguagetermssocietasmeansonly
aspecificformofbeingtogether,namely,thatofbeing
togetherinfunctionofacommonpurposeorend(irrespective
ofwhethertheendisinitselfworthyorvicious:e.g.societas
regni,societassceleris,etc.).Still,the“society”envisagedin
thetheoriesofsocialcontractexploredinpartIIofthe
paperisnotyetaninstancewhichonlypurposeisthatof
functioning.Onthecontrary,theabovementionedcases
(Fallkonstellationen)takeplaceinasocietywhichonlyfunc
tionis,precisely,theperpetuationofitsfunctioning.Toput
itinaformula:functioningforfunctioning’ssake.
Thisphenomenonisnotonlychallenging,butstrictly
speakingvertiginous.Iamnotentirelypersuadedthatthe
perspectiveofthesocialcontractlaw(Gesellschafts
vertragsrecht),whichismentionedattheendofthepaper,
hastheslightestchanceofdealingwithit.ButhereIam
onlymakingatentative,nondefinitiveclaim.Ontheother
hand,inmyopinion,thepapershedslightonanAbgrund
[abyss]forwhichno“theory”iscurrentlyabletounravel.
Moreover,itdoessoinaworthwhileway,thatis,byinsist
ingonaspecificperspective(namely,thatoftherulesgov
erningtherelationshipbetweenthestateandthecitizens),
withouttakingthecommonshortcutofmakinguseof
philosophicaltheorieshastilyadaptedtothecontext.
RemarksonAndreasAbeggspaper“FromtheSocialContracttoaSocialContractLaw”
MaurizioBorghi

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