Professor Paul Berman
Professor of Law at George Washington University
In an era of populist revolt, we need a full-throated defence of cosmopolitan pluralism: a scheme of governance that recognizes the importance of inter-locking networks of communication and cooperation, but also respect for local variation. Such models are preferable to either insistence on universalism or insistence on sovereigntist territorialism. Particularly given the pressing cross-border problems facing the world, tribalism is not possible. But universalism smacks of elitism and hegemony and discounts local variation and creativity. Accordingly, we need structures that respect the norms and values of diverse communities but seek communication and cooperation across difference.
Professor Pierre Legrand
Professor of Law at the University Paris I (Sorbonne)
I propose to investigate what it means to read, with specific reference to the reading of foreign law (which is what comparatists like myself read). The major issue, as I see the matter, is whether a foreign law-text contains a meaning that the comparatist’s reading is meant to extract from it, or whether the comparatist brings meaning to the text through his readerly intervention. I argue the latter, that is, I claim that a foreign law-text is, literally, meaningless unless and until a reader, such as a comparatist, comes to it to ascribe meaning to it. The way I interpret the act of reading carries significant epistemological implications. In particular, it excludes the idea of a law-text featuring a meaning that could be said to exist objectively or as a matter of truth. It also excludes the idea that a comparatist could ever produce a meaning that could be said to be a law-text’s objective or true meaning.
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