Abstract In his Heidelberg University lecture of 1992, the author uses an ail-too prescient torture scenario to exam the function and putative indispensability of norms in modern society. In the exceptional case, recourse to the »normativity of norms« or to »values« proves to be untenable because all norms and values reveal themselves to be undecidable. Viewed from within the legal systems, the validity of norms remain unquestioned, but viewed from »society« (by, say, the sociologist), norms are seen as social facts and thus open to discussion. The author works his way through many permutations of the torture question (»Would you do it?«) not to give us a normative answer to the problem, but to exemplify the seeming impossibility of reasonably expecting that any given legal norm is normatively indispensable.
Soziale Systeme – de Gruyter
Published: May 1, 2008
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