Constitutive Normality of Rules

Autore:Guglielmo Siniscalchi

1. 1. Normality and normativity. - 2. From norms to normality: Hans Kelsen. - 3. From normality to norms: Carl Schmitt.


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  1. Which is the theoretical relationship existing between normality and normativity in legal systems?

    My brief reflections are trying to find an answer to this question. The main thesis of the following pages is that there is a bilateral relationship between the concepts of normality and normativity: the first direction aims at a normality produced by rules; the second one, on the contrary, tends to a normality producing rules1.

    I will explain my thought quoting some examples taken from the works of two of the most important philosophers of law of the nineteenth century: Hans Kelsen [1881-1973] and Carl Schmitt [1888-1985].

    In Kelsen’s opinion, normality is simply the result of the rule’s legal force; for Schimtt the existence of a situation of normality is a fundamental condition for the validity of rules and legal system.

  2. The first example arises from the pages of one of the beginning passages of Hans Kelsen Allgemeine Theorie der Normen [1979].

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    In the first chapter, „Die Norm“, of Kelsen’s work, there is a brief paragraph entitled „Norm und normal“ in which the normalitynormativity relationship is focused by the jurist’s thin magnifying lens.

    He writes:

    Soweit „Norm“ in dem Eigenschaftswort „normal“ zum Ausdruck kommt, ist es jedoch nicht ein Sollen, sondern ein Sein, das damit gemeint wird. „Normal“ ist, was in der Regel tatsächlich geschieht. Soweit damit auch ein Sollen gemeint wird, setzt man die Geltung der Norm voraus, daß das, was in der Regel zu geschehen pflegt, auch geschehen soll, daß insbesondere ein Mensch sich so verhalten soll, wie sich Menschen in der Regel zu verhalten pflegen 2 .

    Kelsen considers “normality” as a simple happening, a pure fact and not, for instance, a value judgement on that fact: what is normal is a brute “Sein”, an “is” from which it is severely forbidden to derive a “Sollen” or a “ought.

    Kelsen adds:

    Daß daraus, daß etwas tatsächlich in der Regel geschieht, folgt, daß es auch geschehen soll, ist ein Trugschluß. Aus einem Sein kann nicht logisch ein Sollen folgen. Nur eine in Geltung stehende Norm kann statuieren, daß, was in der Regel zu geschehen pflegt, auch geschehen soll3.

    If normality is simply a fact, it is not possible at all to derive the normative from the factual. It is not by chance that Kelsen quotes in his note just Perelman and OlbrechtsTyteca’s Traité de l’argumentation. La nouvelle rethorique ratifies theoretically “the passage from the normality to the normativity” [le passage du normal au normatif]4.

    In Kelsen’s thought there isn’t any influence or relation of derivation between “normality” and “normativity”: normality as a matter of fact and legal normativity are different and separate phenomena.

    In Kelsen’s theory of rules, normality neither conditions nor creates the rule: it is the rule itself which produces situations of normality.

    This issue has further been confirmed by the definition of the rule given by Kelsen at first in Reine Rechtslehre. Einleitung in die rechtswissenschaftliche Problematik [1934], and then, subsequently, in Reine Rechtslehre [1960].

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    The rule conceived as a “qualification’s scheme” of social reality5, clearly explains the “great division” between “to be” and “ought to be”, between Sein and Sollen6.

    The rule stays in the universe of the “must be”, where normality has simply the “weak” meaning of a social regularity imposed and produced by the rule itself which considers social fact and acts as legally significant.

    Normality, considered as what really happens, exists only in the frame of “to be”; is ruled by what Kelsen calls SeinsRegeln, which for no reason at all, are relevant for the legal system.

    In the same way, the direction which starts from the rule creating forms of normality, appears clearer when, in the frame of rule’s concept, Kelsen distinguish between...

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