Homo Juridicus: On the Anthropological Function of the Law

in Historical Materialism
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Abstract

In Homo Juridicus, Alain Supiot argues that law has an 'anthropological' function – constituting people as rational beings by linking together their biological and symbolic dimensions. The law also serves a 'dogmatic function', embodying Western values and serving as a bar to totalitarian scientism and tempering the excesses of technology in the workplace. However, the anthropological function of the law has been undermined by the advance of science and economics and widespread privatisation, contractualisation and deregulation. This article contests Supiot's claims, especially as regards Marxism, counterposing his position to that of Bolshevik legal theorist Evgeny Pashukanis. Pashukanis's insights into the relationship between law and capitalism are used to re-frame Supiot's argument and to undermine his contention that globalisation is inimical to law. Pashukanis is also invoked to contest the claims that the anthropological function of the law is the only alternative to totalitarianism and that law serves to 'humanise' technology.

Homo Juridicus: On the Anthropological Function of the Law

in Historical Materialism

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