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

In her lecture, Dr. Helga Maria 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 studied law at the National University of La Pampa, Argentina. She received her doctorate degree from the Austral University, Argentina, with a thesis on the subject "Parallelisms between Law and Linguistics: approaches from similarities in the study objects and epistemological concerns". In addition, she earned a diploma in social projects and methodology of social sciences as well as a masters degree in social and cultural sciences and philosophy. Dr. Helga Lell was a member of various interdisciplinary research teams. Her academic work was honored with several prizes and scholarships. Currently, Dr. Helga Lell is a researcher at the National Council for Research, Science and Technology (Conicet, Argentina) and lecturer on Legal Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Research in Legal Sciences at the Economic and Legal Sciences Faculty of the National University of La Pampa.  Moreover, she is an external researcher at the International Seminar of Natural Law and Human Person at the Argentine Catholic University and of Institute for American and European Studies at the National University of La Pampa, member of the LabOnt-Argentina and director of the journal "Perspectives on Economic and Legal Sciences".

Since April 2019, Dr. Helga Maria Lell is a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg "Law as Culture".