Jules Coleman, one of the world's leading philosophers of law, here presents his most mature work so far on substantive issues in legal theory and the appropriate methodology for legal theorizing. In doing so, he takes on the views of highly respected contemporaries such as Brian Leiter, Stephen Perry, and Ronald Dworkin.
This book by one of America's preeminent legal theorists is concerned with the conflict between the goals of justice and economic efficiency in the allocation of risk, especially risk pertaining to safety. The author approaches his subject from the premise that the market is central to liberal political, moral, and legal theory. In the first part of the book, he rejects traditional "rational choice" liberalism in favor of the view that the market operates as a rational way of fostering stable (...) relationships and institutions within communities of individuals with broadly divergent conceptions of the good. However, markets are needed most where they are most difficult to create and sustain, and one way to understand contract law in liberal legal theory, according to Professor Coleman, is as an institution designed to reduce uncertainty and thereby make markets possible. Another target of this book is the prevalent view that tort law helps rectify market failures when transaction costs are too high to permit contracting. The author argues instead that tort law should be understood as a way of rectifying wrongful losses not inefficient exchanges. (shrink)
One of the first volumes in the new series of prestigious Oxford Handbooks, The Oxford Handbook of Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law brings together specially commissioned essays by twenty-six of the foremost legal theorists currently writing, to provide a state of the art overview of jurisprudential scholarship.
Next SectionIn emphasizing the importance of the separability thesis, legal philosophers have inadequately appreciated other philosophically important ways in which law and morality are or might be connected with one another. In this article, I argue that the separability thesis cannot shoulder the philosophical burdens that it has been asked to bear. I then turn to two issues of greater importance to jurisprudence. These are ‘the moral semantics of law’ and ‘the normativity of theory construction in jurisprudence’. The moral semantics (...) claim is that legal content is best understood as moral directives about what is to be done and who is to decide what is to be done. The problem is that legal positivists typically hold that only social facts contribute to the content of law, and it is hard to see how a positivist can hold both the social-facts claim and the moral-semantics claim. I argue that not only are the two claims consistent with one another, but that legal positivists must hold some version of the moral semantics claim if they are to make sense of the claim that legal reasons purport to be content-independent moral reasons for acting. In Section 3 of the article, I take up the question of whether theory construction in jurisprudence is normative or descriptive. This is hard to do in part because so little attention has been paid to correctly formulating the issue. I suggest a demanding test for descriptivism; namely, that an adequate analysis of law can be provided entirely in terms of its formal features. I then defend this claim against three arguments designed to show because governance by law is necessarily desirable or valuable that, we cannot characterize law without making reference to those values or to other material features of law. This constitutes a limited but powerful defence of descriptive jurisprudence. (shrink)
Jules Coleman, one of the world's most influential philosophers of law, here expounds his recent views on a range of important issues in legal theory. Coleman offers for the first time an explicit account of the pragmatist method that has long informed his work, and takes on the views of highly respected contemporaries such as Ronald Dworkin and Joseph Raz.
H.L.A. Hart's The Concept of Law is the most important and influential book in the legal positivist tradition. Though its importance is undisputed, there is a good deal less consensus regarding its core commitments, both methodological and substantive. With the exception of an occasional essay, Hart neither further developed nor revised his position beyond the argument of the book. The burden of shaping the prevailing understanding of his views, therefore, has fallen to others: notably, Joseph Raz among positivists, and Ronald (...) Dworkin among positivism's critics. Dworkin, in particular, has framed, then reframed, the conventional understanding, not only of Hart's positivism, but of the terms of the debate between positivists and him. While standing on the sidelines, Hart witnessed the unfolding of not only a lively debate between positivists and Dworkin, but an equally intense one among positivists as to positivism's core claims. The most important debate has been between so-called inclusive and exclusive positivists: a debate as much about Hart's legacy as about the proper interpretation of legal positivism. (shrink)
This leading anthology contains legal cases and essays written by the finest scholars in legal philosophy, representing all major points of view on the most central topics in philosophy of law. Its primary focus is to relate traditional themes of legal philosophy to the concerns of modern society in a way that invigorates one and illuminates the other, respectively. This classic text is distinguished by its clarity, balance of topics, balance of substantive positions on controversial questions, topical relevance, imaginative use (...) of cases and stories, and the inclusion of only lightly edited or untouched classics. This revision is distinguished in its inclusion of many articles relevant to terrorism and torture, contract and property, and a greater emphasis on concrete legal problems. (shrink)
Reactive emotion accounts hold that blameworthiness should be analyzed in terms of the familiar reactive emotions. However, despite the attractions of such views, we are not persuaded that blameworthiness is ultimately a matter of correctly felt reactive emotion. In this paper, we draw attention to a range of little-discussed considerations involving the moral significance of the passage of time that drive a wedge between blameworthiness and the reactive emotions: the appropriateness of the reactive emotions is sensitive to the passage of (...) time in ways that attributions of blameworthiness are not. There are a number of ways in which reactive emotion accounts might attempt to accommodate the moral significance of time, however. We consider the most important of these, but ultimately find them wanting. Accordingly, we conclude that the prospects for the reactive emotion accounts are bleak. Our argument, if successful, has a range of implications for legal theory, most importantly in providing a novel moral basis for statutes of limitations and in shedding light on new avenues in the theory of criminal law generally. (shrink)
The Postscript to The Concept of Law contains Herbert Hart's only sustained and considered response to the objections pressed against his views by his distinguished critic, Ronald Dworkin. In this extraordinary collection, many of the leading legal philosophers in the world evaluate the success of Hart's responses to Dworkin on several of these counts. Notable contributors include Joseph Raz of Oxford University and Jules L. Coleman of the Yale Law School.
This collection of essays by one of America's leading legal theorists is unique in its scope: it shows how traditional problems of philosophy can be understood more clearly when considered in terms of law, economics, and political science.
Gregory S. Kavka was a prominent and influential figure in contemporary moral and political philosophy. The essays in this volume are concerned with fundamental issues of rational commitment and social justice to which Kavka devoted his work as a philosopher. The essays take Kavka's work as a point of departure and seek to advance the respective debates. The topics include: the relationship between intention and moral action as part of which Kavka's famous 'toxin puzzle' is a focus of discussion, the (...) nature of deterrence, the rationality of morals, contractarian ethics, and the contemporary relevance of Hobbes' political thought. Incorporating important philosophical statements of problems and fresh contributions to the ongoing debate about rational intention this volume will interest not just philosophers but also political scientists and economists. (shrink)
In this essay, I characterize the original intervention that became Inclusive Legal Positivism, defend it against a range of powerful objections, explain its contribution to jurisprudence, and display its limitations and its modest jurisprudential significance. I also show how in its original formulations ILP depends on three notions that are either mistaken or inessential to law: the separability thesis, the rule of recognition, and the idea of criteria of legality. The first is false and is in event inessential to legal (...) positivism. The second is inessential to legal positivism. The third is likely inessential to law. I then characterize the central claim of ILP in a way that relies on none of these: ILP is the claim that necessarily social facts determine the determinants of legal content. I show that ILP so conceived leaves the central debates in law largely untouched. I suggest how the most fundamental of these—the question of the normativity of law—at least can be usefully addressed. The essay closes by suggesting that even though one can distinguish the social from the normative dimensions of law, a theory of the nature of law is necessarily an account of the relationship between the two: It is a theory either of the difference that certain distinctive social facts make in normative space, or it is an account of the distinctive normative difference that law makes, and the social and other facts that are necessary to explain that difference. One can distinguish between but one cannot separate the social from the normative aspects of legality. (shrink)
One approach to legal theory is to provide some sort of rational reconstruction of all or of a large body of the common law. For philosophers of law this has usually meant trying to rationalize a body of law under one or another principle of justice. This paper explores the efforts of the leading tort theorists to provide a moral basis - in the sense of rational reconstruction based on alleged moral principles - for the law of torts. The paper (...) is divided into two parts. In the first part I consider and reject the view that tort law is best understood as falling either within the ambit of the principle of retributive justice, a comprehensive theory of moral responsibility, or an ideal of fairness inherent in the idea that one should impose on others only those risks others impose on one. The second part of the paper distinguishes among various conceptions of corrective or compensatory justice and considers arguments — including previous ones by the author himself — to the effect that tort law is best understood as rooted in principles of corrective justice. This paper argues that although the principles of justice may render defensible many (but by no means all) of the claims to repair and to liability recognized in torts, it cannot explain why we have adopted a tort system as the approach to vindicating those claims. Some other principle — probably not one of justice — is needed to explain why it is that the victim's claim to repair is satisfied by having his losses shifted to his injurer — rather than through some other means of doing so. The paper concludes that the law of torts cannot be understood — in the sense of being given a rational reconstruction — under any one principle of morality. (shrink)
For several decades the work of Joel Feinberg has been the most influential in legal, political and social philosophy in the English-speaking world. This 1994 volume honours that body of work by presenting fifteen essays, many of them by leading legal and political philosophers, that explore the problems that have engaged Feinberg over the years. Amongst the topics covered are issues of autonomy, responsibility and liability. It will be a collection of interest to anyone working in moral, legal or political (...) philosophy. (shrink)
Suppose the prevailing distribution of property rights is unjust as determined by the relevant conception of distributive justice. You have far more than you should have under that theory and I have far less. Then I defraud you and in doing so reallocate resources so that our holdings ex post more closely approximate what distributive justice requires. Do I have a duty to return the property to you? There are many good reasons for requiring me to return to you what (...) I have taken. One is that while you may have no right in justice to all that you own, it does not follow that I do, or that I have a right to take it. Thus, requiring me to return the property to you is a way of recognizing that I had no right to take it from you in the first place. (shrink)
US Senate is considering legislation designed to immunize small businesses from lawsuits brought by customers alleging to have been infected with COVID-19 while on the premises. The legislation seeks to subsidize reopening small businesses by reducing their vulnerability to liability. I argue that the legislation produces worse public health outcomes than existing liability regimes, obliterates claims to redress supported by corrective justice, and unfairly burdens victims by forcing them to become de facto insurers of their injurers. In the US, where (...) health insurance is inextricably linked with employment, and during the pandemic with the consequent loss of employment, the legislation is cruel in addition to being ineffective, unjust, unfair and inappropriate. Since I first uploaded this manuscript to Philpapers, Senate Republicans have in fact introduced specific legislation that is marginally different than the one I discuss in the manuscript. Instead of offering blanket immunity, the current Republican proposal offers a series of substantial barriers both to filing lawsuits and to securing a successful verdict at trial. I discuss these as an addendum to the main paper. In short, though the changes impact some features of my argument, they do not alter any of the conclusions. The current proposal produces worse public health outcomes than would existing tort regime; it leaves the vast majority of those with legitimate claims to repair in corrective justice without a remedy, when providing the opportunity to secure a remedy for wrongs is in large measure, the essential nature of tort liability. Worse still, it continues to render victims the de facto insurers of those who have wronged them; it imposes the burden of spreading risks on victims who are considerably less efficient risk spreaders than are businesses and hospitals; it constitutes an inappropriate response to the challenge it seeks to address, i.e. subsidizing various sectors of the economy by reducing their overall costs; and given the fact that in the US health insurance is too closely linked to employment, it shifts the costs of the pandemic to those who are most at risk of losing their health insurance, rendering the proposal cruel in addition to inefficient, unjust, unfair and inappropriate. For those interested, I am considering a short op-ed piece assessing the particular legislative proposal. If I follow through I will let the readership know where that can be found. (shrink)
This essay is part of a larger project exploring the extent to which the market paradigm might be usefully employed to explain and in some instances justify nonmarket institutions. The focus of the market paradigm in this essay is the relationship between the idea of a perfectly competitive market and aspects of both the rationality of political association and the theory of collective choice. In particular, this essay seeks to identify what connections, if any, exist between one kind of market (...) account of the rationality of political association and one kind of market-based social choice rule. The market theory of political association I intend to discuss I call “market contractarianism,” and the collective choice rule whose relation to it I intend to explore is the unanimity rule. What, if anything, is the relationship between market contractarianism and the unanimity rule? (shrink)
This book is an interdisciplinary study of the fundamental normative issues underpinning immigration policy. Economists, political scientists and philosophers address issues such as the proper role of the state in supporting a particular culture, the possible destabilization of the political and social life of a country through immigration, the size and distribution of economic losses and gains, and the legitimacy of discriminating against potential immigrants in favour of members of the resident population. The need for serious philosophical consideration of this (...) subject is beyond question. This volume should advance discussion in an area of great practical as well as philosophical importance. (shrink)
INTRODUCTION In any society relatively few disputes are brought to judges for resolution. Most are handled informally or forgotten. Fewer still are cases that go to trial. Most are settled. Compromises are reached even in cases where issues are hotly contested and where millions or billions of dollars in damages are claimed. Recently, for example, one of the most controversial lawsuits of our time, the Agent Orange case, was settled. In that case, veterans of the Vietnam War, their spouses, and (...) their children alleged that a defoliant — Agent Orange – used in Southeast Asia contained dioxin and was responsible for deaths, debilities, miscarriages, and birth defects suffered by members of the plaintiff class. Class members argued that the manufacturers of the defoliant, seven major chemical companies, knew that it was tainted and should be made to compensate them for their injuries, claiming billions of dollars in damages. The case received national exposure and became a rallying point for veterans, a means they hoped to use to publicize their plight and to spur Congress to come to their aid. On the eve of trial, the case was settled. The defendants, who denied liability throughout the pretrial period, agreed to pay the veterans $180 million. In turn, the plaintiff class agreed to drop the suit. Thus ended a controversy which not only presented novel legal issues and tested the ability of the federal courts to handle complex lawsuits, but concerned the well-being of a large number of veterans, their spouses, and their handicapped children as well. (shrink)
There is a close but largely unexplored connection between law and economics and cognitive psychology. Law and economics applies economic models, modes of analysis, and argument to legal problems. Economic theory can be applied to legal problems for predictive, explanatory, or evaluative purposes. In explaining or assessing human action, economic theory presupposes a largely unarticulated account of rational, intentional action. Philosophers typically analyze intentional action in terms of desires and beliefs. I intend to perform some action because I believe that (...) it will produce an outcome that I desire. This standard “belief-desire” model of action invokes what philosophers of psychology and action theorists aptly refer to as a “folk psychology.”. (shrink)
No one denies that moral principles figure in legal argument and practice. However, the kind of role morality can or must play in law has been a topic of debate not only between positivists and their critics, but also within the positivist camp. The topic was brought into contemporary prominence by Ronald Dworkin, who in TheModelofRulesI made the provocative observation that the legality of norms appears to depend sometimes on their substantive (moral) merits, and not just on their pedigree or (...) social source. 1 The observation was intended by Dworkin as a challenge to the positivism of H.L.A. Hart. (shrink)
This collection of essays by one of America's leading legal theorists is unique in its scope: It shows how traditional problems of philosophy can be understood more clearly when considered in terms of law, economics and political science. There are four sections in the book. The first offers a new version of legal positivism and an original theory of legal rights. The second section critically evaluates the economic approach to law, and the third considers the relationship of justice to liability (...) for unintentional harms and to the practice of settling disputes rather than fully litigating them. Finally, Coleman explores formal social choice in democratic theory, the relationship between market behaviour and voting, and the view that morality itself, like law, is a solution of the problem of market failure. This book will be of cardinal importance to philosophers of law, legal theorists, political scientists and economists. (shrink)
This collection of essays by one of America's leading legal theorists is unique in its scope: It shows how traditional problems of philosophy can be understood more clearly when considered in terms of law, economics and political science.
An extraordinary collection of the finest essays in the core areas of legal philosophy, Readings in Philosophy of Law is a perfect introduction to the breadth of issues covered in the philosophy of law. The essays are all classic papers chosen as much for their clarity of thought and comprehensiveness as for their distinctiveness and importance to the subject matters of legal philosophy. This collection is ideal for the professional as well as the student, as it brings together classic essays (...) that are not otherwise available in one volume. The reader sees each author's thoughts and arguments unfold naturally within the context of other important works. For breadth of contributions and intellectual rigor, Readings in Philosophy of Law is unrivalled. (shrink)