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International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

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Legal reality and its a priori foundations – a question of acting or interpreting?

Felix Kaufmann, Fritz Schreier and their critique of Adolf Reinach

Sophie Loidolt

pp. 47-73

What kind of reality is legal reality, how is it created, and what are its a priori foundations? These are the central questions asked by the early phenomenologists who took interest in social ontology and law. While Reinach represents the well-known "realist" approach to phenomenology of law, Felix Kaufmann and Fritz Schreier belonged to the "positivist" "Vienna School of Jurisprudence," combining Hans Kelsen's Pure Theory of Law with Edmund Husserl's phenomenology—and thereby challenging Reinach's views on how legal reality and the legal a priori were to be conceived. This paper addresses the controversy between these positivist and realist approaches to phenomenology of law, with the goal of introducing the lesser known theories of Kaufmann and Schreier. The special focus on their critique of Reinach's outline should give us an overview of their positions vis-à-vis the basic and a priori elements of which legal reality consists and the role that phenomenology plays in analyzing them. There is one general tendency to be noted: While the phenomenological legal positivists see the root of legal reality in an act of interpretation according to a "normative scheme of interpretation," Reinach locates the roots of legal reality in social interaction and argues for the existence of entities independent of any interpretation.By looking at the differentiated answers that were proposed in these debates, we can gain valuable insights also for a contemporary phenomenological approach to social ontology, especially with respect to the constituents and prerequisites of legal reality.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-27692-2_3

Full citation:

Loidolt, S. (2016)., Legal reality and its a priori foundations – a question of acting or interpreting?: Felix Kaufmann, Fritz Schreier and their critique of Adolf Reinach, in A. Salice & H. B. Schmid (eds.), The phenomenological approach to social reality, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 47-73.

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