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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, the focus is on the question how different ideas of pluralism, legal pluralism, and value pluralism, relate. The background to the question is the observation that in normative theories of global legal pluralism liberal principles are a core feature. The liberal emphasis on the need to respect the life choices of individuals shows affinity to the philosophical idea of value pluralism, but then the question arises how a liberal idea of value pluralism relates to legal pluralism. Moreover, we may ask whether there are alternative accounts of value pluralism that can be linked to legal pluralism in a more productive way. This chapter explores one such account: that of German legal philosopher Gustav Radbruch. The chapter sees the existence of various legal orders and value-laden practices as a phenomenon in need of conceptual clarification and theoretical explanation, which involves normative considerations. Both legal and value pluralism are issues on which a theoretical explanation of the phenomenon almost inevitably gives rise to the normative question how to deal with conflicting legal norms or values. Radbruch’s theory of legal values provides a different perspective on the role of values in global legal pluralism than implied by the more commonly used liberal outlook. Radbruch’s work yields a criterion to distinguish law from other normative orders, it accounts for variable content of global legal orders, and it makes sense of the tensions between the basic values of law and the relative importance they have in different legal orders.

Keywords: legal philosophy, global legal pluralism, liberalism, universalism, relativism, legal values, value conficts.

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