That the conceptual structure underlying Luhmann’s theory of social systems is indebted to sociological antecedents including Parsons’ action system, epistemological sources such as second-order cybernetics, a range of contributions to the modern philosophical tradition between Kant and Husserl, as well as terminological innovations drawn from biology, is subject to a vast consensus among the followers of autopoietic theory. These references are indeed so well known that the memory of the theory’s connections to a more extended old-european genealogy is discarded and needs refreshing, especially the deep affinities linking the autopoieticist differenciation of system and environment to its apparently distant theological background. A special issue here are recent developments that put a new emphasis on the legal system reference to justice (righteousness). Mostly, justice, or righteousness, is described as the system’s “contingency formula”. Yet by which right can the legal order lay claim to any special, let alone exclusive relationship to the topic of Justice ? Especially, current legal trends of universalisation under the aegis of Human Rights law multiply instances of what looks increasingly like an addictive spiral of legal self-reenforcement. In this situation, it is sometimes argued, help can be expected from the adoption of self-critique and self-transcendence. Instead, however, these methods are unfortunately especially bound to result in further reenforcement.