14 May 2020

CALL FOR PAPERS: Paradigmatic Shifts in the History of Private Law [25th Ius Commune Workshop] (Maastricht: Maastricht University, 26-27 NOV 2020) (DEADLINE 15 JUL 2020)

(image: Maastricht; Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The 25th Ius Commune Conference will take place in Maastricht (26-27 November 2020), and a Workshop will be devoted to the impact of paradigmatic shifts in the history of private law.

The workshops on “Comparative Legal History–Ius Commune in the Making” aim to reveal and understand the nature and effects of various legal formants in the development of law. Indeed, forces of legal formants are too often lost or hidden beneath a superficies of commonalities. History is a living laboratory. In the past, we explored the role of legal actors (Edinburgh 2014), legal sources (Maastricht 2016), force of local laws (Utrecht 2017), methods and dynamics of law (Amsterdam 2018), and networks (Leuven, 2019).

The current Workshop aims to explore the impact of paradigmatic shifts in the history of private law. Kuhn offered ground-breaking ideas on scientific paradigms in his work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). According to Kuhn, a scientific paradigm is an achievement that is “sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity” and “sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve.” Legal scholars have entered the playfield. Legal paradigms are fundamental in legal reasoning, and consequently present in the legal narrative throughout history. Examples of paradigm-changes are omnipresent. On a grand scale, one may identify, amongst many others, the (re)discovery of the Digest, the appearance of Ramism, and the enlightened shift towards codifications around 1800. Likewise, on a micro-level, one is able to identify fundamental shifts in paradigms, such as the development of unjustified enrichment with Grotius or the Rechtsgeschaeft with von Savigny.

We need to understand our paradigmatic shifts, and thus our law. As always, calls for change may be heard, from within or from outside the legal domain. History is a necessity, as it offers us the opportunity to identify and analyse paradigmatic shifts. We seek to identify the nature of these paradigms and their changes. Many of these changes have not happened overnight, but came to be constructed in the course of the legal narrative. Reasons and motivations for change may be highlighted, and reveal the contextual formants, like prevailing ideologies, in time and space.

This workshop invites to address theories, doctrines, and sources of law that experienced such a paradigmatic shift, its interpretation or application in the various domains of law and society. This workshop aims therefore to highlight some of those tipping points throughout the history of private law. Different periods, that of Roman law, the learned ius commune, nineteenth-century codification, and the more recent efforts towards a European private law harmonization will offer insights on the impact of paradigmatic shifts in the history of private law. Law in the making can be better explained by a look into the impact of paradigmatic shifts at different times and places.

Senior researchers and PhD candidates are invited to submit an abstract of a paper related to the above-mentioned theme. Abstracts (max. 400 words) should be sent to Agustin Parise ( no later than 15 July 2020. Shortly after that, the authors will be informed whether their papers are selected for a presentation during the Workshop. All contributions should be in English. Co-authored papers will be also considered.

Researchers from within and outside the Ius Commune Research School will be eligible to present abstracts. Please also forward this call to colleagues who might be interested.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact a member of the organizing committee,

Harry Dondorp (
Wouter Druwé (
Michael Milo (

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