chapter  2
20 Pages

Law at the right time: a plea for slow law in hasty times

ByBart van Klink

This chapter explores some reasons why law may be reluctant to change and not suited for causing social change. It starts this exploration with William Graham Sumner's classic study of the folkways, which still constitutes one of the most articulated and intriguing criticisms of law as an instrument of change, based on extended empirical research in many parts of the world throughout history. In current hermeneutic theories of legal interpretation, the radical temporality of law is widely acknowledged. Building on Michael Oakeshott's notion of radical temporality, the chapter argues that law is inevitably involved in a process of permanent change. It explains in what way legislation could or should contribute to changes in society. The chapter identifies some normative principles that may guide the process of legal change – in the impatient anticipation of the New. There are several principles connected to the legal forms that proposals for legal change have to respect.