Helga Lell (Santa Rosa, Argentinien/Bonn): The Legal Concept of Person in Argentina's Legal System

In her lecture, Dr. Helga Lell will outline the complexity of the concept of a “legal person”, using examples from the Argentinean legal systems. Specifically, Dr. Lell will examine the following questions: Can “law” create persons? Is there a strictly legal concept of person that can be defined without help from other disciplines? Are human beings persons? Or the other way around: are persons human beings? What kind of faces do we imagine when we talk about persons in law? What does it mean to be a person in law? What kind of act does a legal system perform when it declares someone/something a person?

These questions will be the starting point for thinking about the legal concept of person in the Argentinean legal system. The word “person” is present not only in daily language, but also in legal, philosophical and moral speeches. While legal scholars and practitioners expect certainty on the matter, confusion regarding the definition (especially on whether it is ontological or methodological) remains. Until 2014, the Argentinean Civil Code provided a definition of “person” as a being that could have rights and duties. Persons could have a visible or a non-visible existence. However, the interpretations of this definition were not always consistent. In 2014, a new Civil and Commercial Code was introduced. It refers to certain natural characteristics of the idea of human persons but does no longer provide a definition. In contrast, legal persons are defined. Did anything change? Practical problems brought about by the challenge of defining a person will be demonstrated with regard to specific cases that have led to some debates. Finally, Dr. Lell will elaborate on the consequences of interpreting the legal concept of person and the usefulness of metaphors that relate persons with social statuses. 

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Helga Maria Lell studierte Rechtswissenschaften an der National University of La Pampa, Argentinien. Ihren Doktorgrad erhielt sie von der Austral University, Argentinien, mit einer Arbeit zum Thema: „Parallelisms between Law and Linguistics: approaches from similarities in the study objects and epistemological concerns“. Darüber hinaus erwarb sie ein Diplom im Fach Sozialwissenschaftliche Methoden und einen Master in Sozial- und Kulturwissenschaften sowie in Philosophie. Dr. Helga Lell war Mitglied verschiedener interdisziplinär arbeitender Forschungsteams. Ihre Forschung wurde bereits mehrfach mit Preisen und Stipendien ausgezeichnet. Derzeit ist Helga Lell als wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am National Council for Research, Science and Technology (Conicet, Argentinien), als Dozentin für Rechtsphilosophie sowie als Direktorin des Centre for Research in Legal Sciences der Wirtschafts- und Rechtswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der National University of La Pampa tätig. Darüber hinaus ist sie Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Amerikanistik und Europastudien der National University of La Pampa, assoziierte Wissenschaftlerin am International Seminar of Natural Law and Human Person der Argentine Catholic University, Direktorin der Zeitschrift “Perspectives on Economic and Legal Sciences“ sowie Mitglied des LabOnt-Argentiniens.

Seit April 2019 ist Dr. Helga Maria Lell Fellow am Käte Hamburger Kolleg „Recht als Kultur“.