Semioethics of Judicial Narratives: On Virtue and Obsolescence of Moral Stereotypes in Constitutional Courts

Making reference to works of authors who have contributed to post-Aristotelian ethical discourse, this paper aims at a semiotic debugging of virtues, turning them into a separate set of abstract values. Its task is to affirm the virtue-related deontic responsibilities and their cultural and moral consequences without indicating their generative conditions. Such practices determine the impoverishment of ethical debate, with an inevitable restriction of behavioral studies to a series of deontic sign-stereotypes. Nonetheless, these limitations only confirm the very nature of ethical relations: it is impossible to dissociate a virtue from its semiotic representation which, strictly speaking, can only arise from a narrative structure. Ethics – as well as law – can only survive by abandoning its logical-abstract posture, leaning towards the actuality of its sign-pragmatic nature or its semioethic nature. Virtue is established by the recognition of a semiotic network that exalts it, allowing for the presence of open signs, the objects of which are reflection zones instead of defined realities. These open signs, understood as intelligent sign-producing mechanisms within narrative bodies, allow juridical and ethical sciences to grow beyond stereotype-based morality, generating conflicts within court decisions. Examples can be found, for instance, inside the “arrest before due process’ term” debate.

Rafael Zanlorenzi

Positivo University, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil

professor of epistemology, political philosophy and theories of justice at Positivo University. He has obtained both his master's degree in principles theory, and subsequently a doctoral degree in theory of justice from the Federal University of Paraná. At present, he develops his research specialty in the field of legal semiotics, studying the impact of semiotic instruments on the analysis of judicial decisions, notably in the domain of constitutional courts’ activity, along with their political and ethical ties.

constitutional courts