The modern state claims supreme authority over the lives of all its citizens. Drawing together political philosophy, jurisprudence, and public choice theory, this book forces the reader to reconsider some basic assumptions about the authority of the state. Various popular and influential theories - conventionalism, contractarianism, and communitarianism - are assessed by the author and found to fail. Leslie Green argues that only the consent of the governed can justify the state's claims to authority. While he denies that there is (...) a general obligation to obey the law, he nonetheless rejects philosophical anarchism and defends civility - the willingness to tolerate some imperfection in institutions - as a political virtue. (shrink)
This paper addresses the relationship between law and coercive force. It defends, against Frederick Schauer's contrary claims, the following propositions: The force of law consists in three things, not one: the imposition of duties, the use of coercion, and the exercise of social power. These are different and distinct. Even if coercion is not part of the concept of law, coercion is connected to law many important ways, and these are amply recognized in contemporary analytic jurisprudence. We cannot determine how (...) important coercion is to the efficacy of law until we know what counts as coercive force. The question of what counts as coercion is not a matter for generalization or stipulation. It requires an explanation of the concept of coercion. (shrink)
This is the penultimate draft of a paper originally presented at the Hart-Fuller at 50 conference, held at the NYU Law School in February 2008. A revised version will appear in the NYU Law Review. The paper seeks to clarify and assess HLA Hart's famous claim that legal positivism somehow involves a 'separation of law and morals.' The paper contends that Hart's 'separability thesis should not be confused with the 'social thesis,' with the 'sources thesis,' or with a methodological thesis (...) about jurisprudence. Hart's thesis denies the existence of necessary (conceptual) connections between law and morality. But that thesis is false: there are many necessary connections between law and morality, some of them conceptually significant. Among these is an important negative connection: law is of its nature morally fallible and morally risky. Lon Fuller emphasised the 'internal morality of law,' the 'morality that makes law possible'. Hart stressed that there is also an immorality that law makes possible. Law's nature is seen not only in its internal virtues, in legality, but also in its internal vices, in legalism. (shrink)
Lawyers and philosophers have long debated whether law should enforce social morality. This paper explores whether law should improve social morality. It explains how this might be possible, and what sort of obstacles, factual and moral, there are to doing so. It concludes with an example: our law should attempt to improve our social morality of sexual conduct.
Contemporary legal philosophers have focussed their attention on two aspects of the general theory of authority: the issue of legitimacy and the issue of obligation . In John Finnis's work we have a powerful statement of the importance of a third issue: the problem of governance . This paper explores the nature of this duty, its foundations, and its relation to the other aspects of a theory of authority.
This article defends legal instrumentalism, i.e. the thesis that law is distinguished among social institutions more by the means by which it serves its ends, than by the ends it serves. In Kelsen's terms, '[L]aw is a means, a specific social means, not an end.' The defence is indirect. First, it is argued that the instrumentalist thesis is an interpretation of a broader view about law that is common ground among theorists as different as Aquinas and Bentham. Second, the following (...) familiar fallacies that seem to stand in the way of accepting the thesis are refuted: (1) If law is an instrument, then law can have no non-instrumental value. (2) If law is an instrument, then law always has instrumental value. (3) For law to be an instrument, there must be generic end that law serves. (4) If law is an instrument, law must be a neutral instrument. These claims are all wrong. In passing, the instrumentalist thesis is distinguished from other, unrelated, views sometimes associated with instrumentalism, including Brian Tamanaha's diagnosis of the vices of American law, and the views of those who think that jurisprudence is an instrument in the service of social ends. (shrink)
Social groups claim authority to impose restrictions on their members that the state cannot. Churches, ethnic groups, minority nations, universities, social clubs, and families all regulate belief and behavior in ways that would be obviously unjust in the context of a state and its citizens. All religions impose doctrinal requirements; many also enforce sexist practices and customs. Some universities impose stringent speech and conduct codes on their students and faculty. Parochial schools discriminate in their hiring practices. Those who complain about (...) such internal restrictions on the liberties of members might well be told to “love it or leave it.”. (shrink)
Why is it that toleration can be uncomfortable for the tolerated? And how should tolerators respond to that discomfort? This paper argues that properly directed toleration can be deficient in its scope, grounds or spirit. That explains some of the discomfort in being tolerated. Beyond this, the occasions for toleration - the existence of a power to prevent and of an adverse judgment - can also make toleration sting. The paper then explores and rejects two familiar suggestions about how one (...) should respond to this discomfort: with acceptance or recognition of the tolerated. It is proposed instead that toleration should be supplemented by understanding. The nature and importance of this attitude are assessed. (shrink)
This chapter argues that the role of a judge consists of obligations to apply the law, obligations to improve the law, and obligations to protect the law. It defends this view against a competing suggestion by Michael Moore, who claims that, when acting judicially, judges are always obligated to apply the law, and the law alone. I argue that this depends on an incorrect view of the relationship between social roles and moral obligations, and an unacceptably capacious view of what (...) the law is. I conclude by asking whether there is nonetheless room to make a “conceptual choice” to see law as Moore thinks of it, or a reason to reform the concept of law along such lines. I reject both ideas. There are fewer “conceptual choices” in jurisprudence than some people think. (shrink)
Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law is a forum for new philosophical work on law. The essays range widely over general jurisprudence, philosophical foundations of specific areas of law, and other philosophical topics relating to legal theory.
Because gender norms shape the content and application of the law, feminist scholarship has a lot to contribute to the study of law. Gender is also relevant to several problems in normative jurisprudence, and to some problems in special jurisprudence (the study of concepts in the law). But gender has no relevance to general jurisprudence for there is no sense in which the concept of law is ‘gendered’, and no answer to leading problems in general jurisprudence depends on any thesis (...) about gender. Yet some feminist scholars, including prominently Joanne Conaghan, argue that gender is pervasively relevant to jurisprudence, though its relevance has been screened out by methodological errors that characterize what she calls ‘the analytical jurisprudential mind’. I argue that this is incorrect, by examining the relationship between gender and law, the relationship between sex and gender, and the place of sex in the legal concept of marriage. The methodological charges against ‘the analytical jurisprudential mind’ prove unfounded. I also suggest that hostility to analytical methods is likely to be damaging to feminist legal theory, and urge feminist scholars to look again at the resources of analytic legal philosophy. (shrink)
Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law is an annual forum for new philosophical work on law. The essays range widely over general jurisprudence (the nature of law, adjudication, and legal reasoning), philosophical foundations of specific areas of law (from criminal to international law), and other philosophical topics relating to legal theory.
Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law is an annual forum for some of the best new philosophical work on law, by both senior and junior scholars from around the world. The essays range widely over issues in general jurisprudence, the philosophical foundations of specific areas of law, the history of legal philosophy, and related philosophical topics that illuminate the problems of legal theory. OSPL will be essential reading for philosophers, academic lawyers, political scientists, and historians of law who wish (...) to keep up with the latest developments in this flourishing field. (shrink)
The question 'Why should I obey the law?' introduces a contemporary puzzle that is as old as philosophy itself. The puzzle is especially troublesome if we think of cases in which breaking the law is not otherwise wrongful, and in which the chances of getting caught are negligible. Philosophers from Socrates to H.L.A. Hart have struggled to give reasoned support to the idea that we do have a general moral duty to obey the law but, more recently, the greater number (...) of learned voices has expressed doubt that there is any such duty, at least as traditionally conceived. (shrink)