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LCCP research seminar: Law and Phenomenology Workshop

Thursday 22 April 2021

Law and Phenomenology Workshop: Legal Orders and Politics in a Phenomenological Key

At the core of classical phenomenology lies the notion of intentionality: things appear to consciousness as “this” or as “that,” as meaningful in some way. 
This workshop understands phenomenology in a broad sense, as including also post-phenomenological philosophy and all such philosophical and theoretical approaches that in one way or the other seek to describe the conditions of possibility of something appearing as “legal,” “political,” “collective,” “common,” “ruptural,” “authoritative,” etc. We seek to understand legal orders in a phenomenological key, as orders which constitute particular conditions for appearance of individuals, events, behavior and things as “legal” or “illegal.” How ought we best to understand the notion of legal order? What makes the appearance of something as something a collective, first-person plural experience? What role does representation play in the appearance of something as “legal” or “political”? What are the limits of legal appearance, and how ought we to understand the nature of such limits? How is politics at work in the structures and genesis of legal orders? How do ruptures of legal orders manifest themselves? These are among the central questions we will address. 

The seminar is open to all.

The seminar takes place on Zoom. The link and Prof. Lindahl's full paper is sent to participants a week before the meeting. If you want to participate, please send a mail to s.e.lindberg@phil.leidenuniv.nl.


Prof. dr. Hans Lindahl, Professor of Legal Philosophy at Tilburg University

Prof. dr. Hans Lindahl

Intentionality, Representation, Recognition: Phenomenology and the Politics of A-Legality


This paper offers a phenomenology of the politics of a-legality, the legal mode of appearance of the strange, itself a recurrent motif of phenomenological philosophy. A-legality concerns behavior that appears as either legal or illegal (hence the “legality” of a-legality), yet which is also unintelligible in its legal intelligibility because it resists qualification through both terms of this binary distinction (hence the “a” of a-legality). Focusing on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy events that took place in Canberra in 1972 and on the famous Mabo vs Queensland (No 2) case, the paper argues that if collective intentionality is the privileged gateway to a phenomenology of a-legality, representation and recognition illuminate the political and legal stakes of collective intentionality.


Hans Lindahl holds the chair of legal philosophy at Tilburg University, the Netherlands, and a chair of global law at the Law Department of Queen Mary University of London. He obtained law and philosophy degrees at the Universidad Javeriana, in Bogotá, Colombia, before taking a doctorate at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the University of Louvain (Belgium) in 1994. He has worked since at Tilburg, first in the Philosophy Department, currently in the Law School. His primary areas of research are legal and political philosophy. Lindahl has published numerous articles in these fields. His monograph, Fault Lines of Globalization: Legal Order and the Politics of A-Legality, was published with Oxford University Press in 2013 (also published in Italian and Spanish translations). A follow-up monograph, Authority and the Globalisation of Inclusion and Exclusion, has been published with Cambridge University Press in 2018. His current research is primarily oriented to issues germane to globalization processes, such as the concept of legal order in a global setting; the relation of boundaries to freedom, justice, and security; a politics of boundary-setting alternative to both cosmopolitanism and communitarianism; transformations of legal authority and political representation; immigration and global justice; collective identity and difference in the process of European integration. In dealing with these topics Lindahl draws on (post-)phenomenology and theories of collective action of analytical provenance, while also seeking to do justice to the nitty-gritty of positive law.

Dr. Hanna Lukkari

Dr. Hanna Lukkari

Representation, interruption, change: Through a critique of post-juridical political theory to a defense of paradoxical law


Dr. Hanna Lukkari recently defended her dissertation in legal philosophy with the title Law, Politics and Paradox: Orientations in Legal Formalism at the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki. In the dissertation, she analyzes the meaning as well as theoretical and practical implications of paradox for law. She shows that paradoxes are not merely of theoretical interest to logicians, mathematicians and philosophers, but they have a practical, social, legal and even political dimensions. Lukkari is currently lecturing at the Tilburg Law School and is about to begin her postdoctoral research on the paradoxes of new legal media.

Prof. dr. Ferdinando G. Menga

Prof. dr. Ferdinando G. Menga

Political Conflicts and the Transgression of Legal Orders. A Phenomenological Reading of Democratic Contingency and Transformativity


By deploying some phenomenological categories mainly introduced by the German philosopher Bernhard Waldenfels, in this paper I seek to offer an analysis as to how contingency should be understood in order to seize an adequate model for a democratic transgression of legal orders. To reach this interpretive goal, I articulate my argument along the following trajectory. Taking cue from the current influential theory of a democratic agonism developed by Chantal Mouffe, I argue that a conflictual design of a politics based on the appropriation of Schmitt’s absolutistic depiction of antagonism does not offer an apt account of radical democratic contingency and conflict. Consequently, a more appropriate configuration of a politico-legal transgression is required, such that it can be able to express strong manifestations of conflict and transformative impulses, on the one hand, without collapsing into exorbitant configurations thereof, on the other. In the last section of the paper I submit that such an account of a politico-legal transgression is possible by dint of combining Hannah Arendt’s notion of natality and Hans Lindahl’s insights on a-legality.


Ferdinando G. Menga is Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy and Philosophy of Politics at the Legal School of the Università della Campania (near Naples) and annual Visiting Professor at the Institut für Ethik, University of Tübingen. In the last few years his research has been focusing on issues related to the constitution of politico-legal orders, theory of democracy and intergenerational justice. Among his latest books: L'emergenza del futuro. I destini del pianeta e le responsabilità del prensete [The Emergency of the Future. The Destiny of the Planet and the Responsibilities of the Present] (Donzelli, Rome 2021); Ausdruck, Mitwelt, Ordnung. Zur Ursprünglichkeit einer Dimension des Politischen im Anschluss an die Philosophie des frühen Heidegger (Fink, Paderborn 2018); Potere costituente e rappresentanza democratica. Per una fenomenologia dello spazio istituzionale [Constituent Power and Democratic Representation. For a Phenomenology of the Institutional Space] (Editoriale Scientifica, Naples 2010).   

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