Volume 54, 2018
Philosophy of Law
The Core of Legal Rights as a Logical Necessity
From Wittgenstein’s Logic of Language to Phenomenology and Aristotle’s Induction
Analytical jurisprudence and the legal mainstream perceive legal rights in an interactionist fashion, pursuant to a right-obligation duality. The Paper suggests that this is principally because legal positivism and the analytical Anglo-Saxon legal tradition ground their theories on logical positivism and the Wittgensteinian premise that meaning is produced and asserted in social use, i.e. both consensually and contextually. The paper suggests that there is a surplus of meaning which exists beyond social use and which cannot be conceptualized within the sociolinguistic confines of Wittgenstein’s logic of language. This surplus of meaning corresponds to the essential core of legal rights, which, following Aristotle’s induction and philosophy of the essences, constitutes a necessary property and τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι of legal rights, namely a state of affairs or a state of being that cannot be altered without their necessary breach or, indeed, the negation of their very meaning. The Paper discusses the shortcomings of the Wittgensteinian approach and revisits the philosophical foundations of legal rights by employing Aristotle’s induction and theory of the essences, which the Paper connects to the phenomenological method and particularly Ricoeur’s hermeneutics and Husserl’s transcedental phenomenology. This is a process of abstraction and insight, which aspires to induce a rational revisiting of the general theory of legal rights and address the surplus of meaning that Wittgensteinian logic leaves semantically uncovered.