Legal Persons as Abstractions: The Extrapolation of Persons from the Male Case

  • Ngaire NaffineEmail author
Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 119)


This chapter examines the three most influential abstract conceptions of the legal person, in order to clarify and distinguish their meanings and also to show that each is a derivation from the male case. The legal person, at its most abstract, is the formal legal fiction, comprising formal rights and duties. The second abstraction is more loosely tethered to law. This is the person as the basic component of legal, political and social analysis: the person as basic irreducible analytical unit. The third abstraction of the person is a composite of positive law, consisting of the formal elements of any given law. In the case of criminal law, for example, there are offence and defence elements, there are definition and interpretation sections, which build up a kind of person for the purpose of this law. All three abstractions of the person are meant to be neutral as to sex and this neutrality is vital for their claims of universal application and fairness. I show why they are not.


Social Contract Legal Person Language Game Legal Sense Legal Character 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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