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NUMERO 16 - 07/08/2013

 Law and Community: Alessandro Giuliani’s Aristotelian Vision

This article considers the theoretical, practical and pedagogical significance that the classical understanding of community holds for contemporary legal theory. We draw our inspiration from the work of the Italian philosopher and legal theorist, Alessandro Giuliani (1925-1997). Giuliani argued that the dialectical logic of argumentation has important implications for civic life. To develop this thesis he recuperated Aristotle’s conception of community and also drew from the substantial contribution to Aristotle’s legacy by the seventeenth-century rhetoric scholar, Giambattista Vico. We will emphasize Giuliani’s inventive use of these sources to articulate an argumentatively-based community that is capable of bearing the legal and civil demands of modernity. In Part One we elaborate the conception of community at the center of Giuliani’s work by providing an overview of the development of this line of thought as exemplified in Aristotle, Vico, and Giuliani’s contemporary, Chaїm Perelman. We connect the main features of the logic of argumentation, which has its foundations in Aristotelian dialectics and rhetoric, to a “classical” or “isonomic” conception of community. We conclude Part One by explaining the implications that the connection between dialectics (a form of knowledge) and community (a form of practical coexistence) holds for understanding the role of law in modern society. In Part Two we extend our thesis by providing concrete applications of our approach to contemporary legal, moral and social issues. First, we argue that the ongoing struggle by gays and lesbians to secure recognition under the law, in civil society and within social groups provides a vivid setting in which to explore Giuliani’s concept of community. Next, we consider the pressing issues raised by domestic workers in the international economy, and again we conclude that Giuliani’s concept of community provides a productive lens through which to study the entwined social and legal dimensions of these issues. We conclude that Giuliani’s inventive use of Aristotle and Vico to promote a dialectical conception of community provides an excellent foundation for analyzing contemporary dilemmas that place stresses on democratic rule... (segue)

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