Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance - 56th Weekly Meeting

Dear all

We are keen and delighted to announce that the 56th session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance will take place on Friday 1 October 2010, from 6.00 to 8.00pm, in room 5.16, 309 Regent Street (University of Westminster).

To get us back in the mood of philosophizing about the nature of laws we will read something classical (Plato's Laws or Aristotle's Rhetoric) and develop quite independently what might be called "A Hierarchy of Algebras for Legal Analysis". Joe will set out how Hohfeld's schema of legal relations, i.e., jural opposites and jural correlatives of rights, privileges, power and immunity, can be more simply understood in terms of Category Theory.

Category Theory, born about 60 years ago is now firmly embedded in the way we think about modern algebras – it is an extremely superficial theory that can be applied to practically anything –computing networks, quarks, boxing, dish stacking menus, flights of birds, and now, hopefully, legal theory and applications.

Hohfeld in the early part of the 20th century purported to have established an "analytical jurisprudence" that could be used to unravel the mysteries of any legal problem by showing how genuinely complex any legal relation is in terms of jural opposites and correlatives. This schema has always been quite difficult to apply, but with a bit of practice, can be used to resolve many so-called problems in the interpretation of laws – or, in the so-called "practice of law".

Joe will propose to simplify Hohfeld's "field equations" into a much more compact framework, making use of monoids and the articles of faith of Category Theory. The hypothesis is that if we can show how Hohfeld's legal relations are a category, then wherever Hohfeld's analysis applies, we also have a category. Thus, this sort of legal analysis would get everything else that Category Theory has to offer for free! Further, we would have a precise way of speaking about the structure of laws as fundamental conceptions of mathematics. This sounds like a conceptual breakthrough... At this level of abstraction, fundamental conceptions of law (which is the very title and aim of Hohfeld's work) are equivalent to fundamental conceptions of mathematics – which is the title to high school level text on Category Theory. How weird and wonderful if the implied isomorphism is actually the case!

We shall consequently test the application of Category Theory to our traditional banqueting session at Vapiano (19-21 Great Portland Street, W1W 8QB), from 8pm onwards.

See you on Friday!
Joe, Rezarte and Laura

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