Proceduralization of the Law

International Conference

3 to 5 December 2015

The concept of “proceduralisation of the law” has been introduced in German legal theory and philosophy debates in the 1980s and 90s as a reaction to the “regulatory crisis” of the welfare state and the challenges of the “risk society” (Ulrich Beck). Drawing on the resources as diverse as discourse theory and systems theory, along with postmodernist, deconstructive, and autonomy-based modes of reflection on law and society, the foremost theorists of proceduralisation – Jürgen Habermas, Rudolf Wiethölter, Gunther Teubner, Karl-Heinz Ladeur, Klaus Eder, and Ingeborg Maus – all advocated a turn away from the traditional formal and substantive paradigms of law towards a proceduralised version of the law. Despite different articulations of this concept the common ground is that proceduralised law is not (or no longer) primarily characterised by its function to implement presupposed principles, values, or purposes of the respective practice of regulation. Instead, the perspective of the genesis of legal norms becomes central including the reflection on the principles and criteria of their evaluation as well as the conditions of involving various actors or limiting their access to the procedures of decision making and the creation of law.
Today, the relevance of this concept for legal and political theory and philosophy seems undisputed – “proceduralisation”, often as an implicit concept, has long entered the debates surrounding the question of participation and democracy, of recognition and power relations, the processes of constitutionalisation on both national and supranational levels, and so forth. The proceduralisation of the law is usually regarded not solely as an inevitable reaction to the crisis of regulative law, and thus without any alternatives, but also in a normative way as a progress in the development of law. However, rarely do we find an explanation of what the demand of proceduralisation actually is: Is it about the task (or the accomplishment) of a progressive democratization on all levels of the law, or is it rather primarily about a more efficient technique of the law? Can we recognize a gain in freedom when turning away from regulative law or is this only another form of wielding authority and power? And finally, is proceduralisation a recent phenomenon or do we have to assume that the law, particularly in its modern form, has always been constituted in a procedural and self-reflexive way?
Given the emergence of new forms of transnational governance and jurisdiction over the last decades, it seems important to revisit the various conceptions of “proceduralised” law today, especially with regard to the question of the normativity of law and its legitimacy. The aim of the conference is to revive the (philosophical) question of rationality (and irrationality) of the law, and to reconceptualise the category of “proceduralised” or “reflexive” law under the current conditions of its validity and modes of operation. The contributions will assess the potential and limitations of this concept along the problem areas of democracy, governance, constitutionalisation, and multinormativity.

With contributions by:
Samantha Ashenden (Birkbeck, University of London)
Hauke Brunkhorst (University of Flensburg)
Catherine Colliot-Thélène (University of Rennes)
Klaus Günther (University of Frankfurt)
Karl-Heinz Ladeur (University of Hamburg)
Aliki Lavranu (University of Crete)
Emmanuel Melissaris (London School of Economics)
Christoph Menke (University of Frankfurt)
Kolja Möller (University of Frankfurt)
Tatjana Sheplyakova (University of Frankfurt)
Christopher Thornhill (University of Manchester)
Thomas Vesting (University of Frankfurt)

The conference languages will be German and English.

Flyer (programme, pdf): click here...

Organisation: Dr. Tatjana Sheplyakova

Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Campus Westend
Building „Normative Orders“, EG 01
Max-Horkheimer-Str. 2, 60323 Frankfurt am Main

Conference participation is free, but registration is required.
Please register by November 27, 2015 by sending an email to
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Presented by:
The conference is organized within the framework of the DFG-Project on “Taking Legal Action: A Philosophical Perspective” and funded by the DFG and the Goethe University, in cooperation with the Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders"


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