Belgrade Legal Theory Group organized its third event of the autumn semester of 2023 with Prof. Corrado Roversi (University of Bologna) on the topic of legal positivism from the perspective of social ontology.

Prof. Roversi started with his main thesis as a critique of legal positivism by pointing out that designating a legal institution does not depend solely on the practices and declarative speech acts of officials. Therefore, even if P1 and P2 have the same constitutive rules and there is a corresponding rule-following practice, P1 and P2 can be different institutions, because elements such as the so-called background and systematic fallouts influence the ontology of a legal institution. Prof. Roversi then outlined the meaning of the concept of background, saying that it is some sort of “grammar” that exists before the behavior-according-to-the-rules, or a deeper network of desires and beliefs that emerge as a response to basic social needs. On the other hand, systematic fallouts encompass rules, goals and phenomena that are not visible within the deontic powers of an institution.

Afterward, Prof. Roversi moved on to his claim that such elements have the consequence of making an institution different, both socially and legally, since the hidden social relations related to them lead to different outcomes, and have different justifications and aims.

He concluded the lecture with a three-dimensional model for an institutional ontology that would include a meta-institutional (deep conventions as background), institutional, and para-institutional level (systematic fallouts).

Following was the Q&A part of the event, with substantial interest from the audience that was mainly focused on the boundaries of legal phenomena in relation to the social world, as well as the overall value of legal positivism.

At the end of the meeting, Sava Vojnovic thanked everyone for an excellent discussion, as well as Prof. Roversi for the interesting lecture.