The present debate in legal theory is dominated by an unfruitful schism. On the one hand, analytical theories are concerned with the positivity of law, running the risk of missing the law’s relation to society. On the other hand, sociological approaches analyze all sorts of social interactions of law, but have developed no conceptual tools to do justice to the autonomy of law. The theory of autopoiesis offers law a chance of getting round the falsely posed alternative between an autonomous rule system or a socially conditioned decision-making process. It is a theory of law that sees the law’s autonomy in the self-reproduction of a communication network and understands its relation to society as interference with other autonomous communication networks. Building on the ideas of Humberto Maturana, Heinz von Foerster and Niklas Luhmann, Gunther Teubner uses the concepts of self-organization and autopoiesis to develop a concept of law as a hypercyclically closed social system. This book will stand as a landmark in legal theory and become a standard point of departure in the sociology of law.
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