Legal Knowledge about What?

Ratio Juris 13 (3):326-345 (2000)
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Abstract

We assume—in contrast to many “legal realists”—that law is a part of reality. Law exists because people believe in law, but law is not identical with beliefs. Law supervenes on human beliefs, preferences, actions, dispositions and artefacts. Moreover, the morally binding personal interpretation of the law supervenes on two things together: on the individual's knowledge of legal institutions and on moral obligation. The first supervenes in its turn on mutual beliefs; the second supervenes on motivations and dispositions of the individual, provided that she is morally sensitive and rational. Personal interpretation of law converts into social law, if other persons on the basis of overriding reasons do not contest it. Morally binding social law supervenes on moral motivation that is triggered by institutions that supervene on mutual beliefs.

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Jaap Hage
Leiden University

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