Karwan Osmani

PhD student at Department of Law, Doctoral Candidates

Visiting address:
Trädgårdsgatan 1 och 20, Västra Ågatan 26

Postal address:
Box 512
751 20 UPPSALA

I am interested in democracy’s ambiguous relation to free market liberalism. In the last few decades national and global tensions have (re)emerged between our political commitments – political equality, democratic self-government, basic justice assured to all – and our economic commitments – our allegiance to free market liberalism. Liberal theorists assign to the public sphere a central, democracy- and justice-securing function within the basic structure of a liberal democratic society. A pivotal assumption has been this one: If our political commitments (see above) demand it, the public sphere is to be able to regulate other parts of the basic structure, not least the market.

The structural transformations of market and state which have taken place in the last decades have, however, entailed the displacement of the liberal-democratic public sphere as comprehensive regulator and guarantor of basic justice and political equality by an ever-more total market that is incapable of ensuring basic justice to all and erodes political equality. Why is that? I am unconvinced by explanations which reduce these threats to democracy to exogenous and contingent side-effects. Instead I look for patterns inherent in liberalism which might explain the ambiguous position of the public sphere in this basic-structural configuration.

In addition, I am interested in general questions of method and theory. At the moment my foremost interest is in systems of meaning - forms of speech, symbols - which might reintroduce aesthetic sensibilities into law and legal language. The common task is here to devise new forms of legal poetics. The challenge is twofold: to find languages and sign-systems enabling us to escape both the poverty of scientism and ”scientific” legal writing, which mistakenly and catastrophically has banished aesthetics and affect from law; and to escape the pessimism of hermeneutics of suspicion, caught in the ethical compulsion to deconstruct but lacking in any positive aesthetics capable of reconstructing richer languages and institutions of law. Since law is about the relation between human speech and institutions, legal method concerns nothing less than finding new ways of instituting life, to evoke Pierre Legendre.

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