Politics of Representation – The Legal Construction of Publics

Project Details


Contemporary legal theory is facing the crucial option to integrate the lessons which have been accumulated by Sciences, Technology & Society Studies during the last decade. These lessons are simple: it is time to get rid of the great divide that has given to scientists the exclusive right to judge on matters of fact, and to politicians the exclusive right to judge on matters of norms and values. Getting rid of such a great divide implies to think the possibility that the difference between matters of facts and matters of norms and values may not be an interesting and relevant difference anymore. In order to do so, Bruno Latour has proposed the concept of matter of concern. What is a matter of concern? It is what binds together all those who are interested in an issue. But this binding is not only a question of circumstances; it is also a question of knowledge: the knowledge that has been accumulated by all those who have been interested in an issue, and because of this interest. Such an emphasis on the question of concerns (instead of facts and norms/values) opens a radically new conception of not only the scientific truth, but also of the interaction between this truth and the political structure. The formulation of such a new conception has been central to the work of the IUAP phase 5 project The Loyalties of Knowledge (see www.imbroglio.be) in which Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour participated, among others. In the case that the IUAP would not be prolonged during the next phase, the present application aim at the valorisation of Laurent Desutters PhD thesis results in the field of the legal aspects and consequences of this new conception of politics, more specifically, for what concerns the concept of legal principle. What does a principle such as, for instance, the principle of representation do when concerns, and not facts, are at stake? And what can an answer to this question teach to legal theory?
Effective start/end date1/01/0731/12/07

Flemish discipline codes

  • Law and legal studies


  • Representation