Res Publica

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 139–159 | Cite as

A Realistic Vision? Roberto Unger on Law and Politics

  • Kevin Walton


This paper considers Roberto Unger's views on legal reasoning. His account is defended against two misplaced attacks. The first critique is by Emilios Christodoulidis. Using the language of systems theory, Christodoulidis contends that Unger's programme of democratic experimentalism cannot be achieved through law, as the constitutive structure of the legal system is immune to politics. Christodoulidis accuses Unger of attempting to reduce law to politics. It will be argued, however, that Unger does no such thing. The second attack holds that Unger's criticisms of objectivism apply to his own democratic vision and that, as a result, he cannot promote this vision without self-contradiction. Again, it will be argued that this criticism rests on a misunderstanding of Unger's views. The paper concludes with a tentative objection to the substantive proposals of Unger's work, suggesting that they ought to be replaced by a pluralist account of value.

democracy legal reasoning objectivity pluralism politics systems theory Unger 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Walton
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Law & SocietyUniversity of EdinburghUK

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