Maria Theresa and the Law

Many years ago, I was attending a university course about legal aspects for computer scientists. It was a very basic course and in order to make the topic digestible more easily for us students, the lecturer was providing some anecdotes. As the course was provided by an Austrian university, some of the examples referred to the Habsburgans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The lecturer told us that before a law could pass, a member of the common people had to read the law text and explain it in his own words. Only if that was possible and purpose of the law could be reflected, a law could become active and valid.

The idea behind this was to ensure that the population, which received only basic education back in the days of Maria Theresa, could understand the meaning and implications of the law. This person had a specific name, if I remember correctly, it was Hungarian for "simple person" or even "stupid person". Does anyone know the term for this person?

  • 1
    I assume you're looking for something similar to this UK term. No idea what a similar Hungarian term would be. – Chris Hayes Feb 1 '18 at 10:19

In the United States, we use the phrase "Reasonable Person" which is not to say an average person or a simple man, but an individual who understands the limitations of the situation and would act in accordance with that knowledge. For example, if a doctor improperly rendered help a patient, his actions would be evaluated based on reasonable knowledge of people with his medical knowledge, where as a person practicing medicine without a license would be subjected to a more common-man standard.

The phrase person is therefor substituted for a reasonable individual and thus, a "Reasonable Landlord/Renter" could exist in housing cases, or a "Reasonable Doctor" in medical torts or "a Reasonable Woman" in sexual assault cases, so the "Reasonable Person" is often used to allow the jury to put themselves in the shoes of the witnesses and the accused and see how they would react (Historically, the term was called a "Reasonable Man" though "Reasonable Person" was used to make the term more neutral to what the definition of "Man" was (A human male or a member of the Human Species, regardless of gender).

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