During the last half of the twentieth century, legal philosophy (or legal theory or jurisprudence) has grown significantly. It is no longer the domain of a few isolated scholars in law and philosophy. Hundreds of scholars from diverse fields attend international meetings on the subject. In some universities, large lecture courses of five hundred students or more study it. The primary aim of the Law and Philosophy Library is to present some of the best original work on legal philosophy from (...) both the Anglo-American and European traditions. Not only does it help make some of the best work avail able to an international audience, but it also encourages increased awareness of, and interaction between, the two major traditions. The primary focus is on full-length scholarly monographs, although some edited volumes of original papers are also included. The Library editors are assisted by an Editorial Advisory Board of internationally renowed scholars. Legal philosophy should not be considered a narrowly circumscribed field. (shrink)
In authoritarian states, the discourse on freedom of speech, conducted by those opposed to non-democratic governments, focuses on the core aspects of this freedom: on a right to criticize the government, a right to advocate theories arid ideologies contrary to government-imposed orthodoxy, a right to demand institutional reforms, changes in politics, resignation of the incompetent and the corrupt from positions of authority. The claims for freedom of speech focus on those exercises of freedom that are most fundamental and most beneficial (...) to citizens - and which are denied to them by the government. But in a by-and large democratic polity, where these fundamental benefits of freedom of speech are generally enjoyed by the citizens, the public and scholarly discourse on freedom of speech hovers about the peripheries of that freedom; the focus is on its outer boundaries rather than at the central territory of freedom of speech. Those borderline cases, in which people who are otherwise genuinely committed to the core aspects of freedom of speech may sincerely disagree, include pornography, racist hate speech and religious bigoted expressions, defamation of politicians and of private persons, contempt of court, incitement to violence, disclosure of military or commercial secrets, advertising of merchandise such as alcohol or cigarettes or of services and entertainment such as gambling and prostitution. (shrink)
This paper claims that the intuitive and widespread legitimating power of majority rule (MR) arises from the link between majority rule and the principle of equality of political opportunity. The egalitarian character of MR is established by exploring “puzzles” in democratic theory, such as the insensitivity of democratic voting procedures to unequal intensity of citizens' preferences, and the relationship between the principle of unanimity (sometimes thought better to respect citizens' equality) and MR. Special attention is directed to the relationship between (...) political equality and equality in the outcomes of political decisions: The claim is made that the language of equal political opportunity captures well the idea of equal political influence, in the circumstance of disagreement about what is required to achieve equal treatment through the outcomes of political decisions. (shrink)
This is a completely revised and updated second edition of Rights Before Courts (2005, paper edition 2008). This book carefully examines the most recent wave of the emergence and case law of activist constitutional courts: those that were set up after the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. In contrast to most other analysts and scholars, the study does not take for granted that they are a "force for good" but rather subjects them to critical scrutiny against a (...) background of wide-ranging comparative and theoretical analysis of constitutional judicial review in the modern world. The new edition takes in new case law and constitutional developments in the decade since the first edition, including considering the recent disturbing disempowerment of the Hungarian Constitutional Court (which previously was probably the most powerful constitutional court in the world) resulting from the fundamental constitutional changes brought about by the Fidesz government. (shrink)
This book examines the relationship between the idea of legitimacy of law in a democratic system and equality, conceived in a tripartite sense: political, legal, and social. Exploring the constituent elements of the legal philosophy underlying concepts of legitimacy, this book seeks to demonstrate how a conception of democratic legitimacy is necessary for understanding and reconciling equality and political legitimacy by tracing and examining the conceptions of equality in political, legal, and social dimensions. -/- In the sphere of political equality (...) this book argues that the best construction of equality in a democratic system - which resonates with the legitimizing function of majority rule - is that of equality of political opportunity. It is largely procedural, but those procedures represent important substantive values built into a majoritarian system. In the sphere of legal equality it argues that a plausible conception of non-discrimination can be constructed through a "reflective equilibrium" process, and should reject a thoughtless assumption that the presence of some particular criteria of differentiations necessarily taints a legal classification as discriminatory. Finally, the chapters on social equality explore, in some detail, the currently influential, and presumptively attractive, "luck egalitarianism": the idea that social equality calls for neutralizing the disparate effects of bad brute luck upon a person's position in society. (shrink)
lt is a commonplace that law and morality intersect and interpenetrate in all the areas of legal decision-making; that in order to make sense of constitutional, statutory or common-law questions, judges and other legal decision-makers must first resolve certain philosophical issues which include moral judgments of right and wrang_ This is particularly evident with regard to constitutional interpretation, especially when constitutions give a mandate for the protection of the substantive norms and values entrenched as constitutional rights. In these Situations, as (...) a leading contemporary legal philosopher observed, the "Constitution fuses legal and moral issues, by making the validity of a law depend on an answer to complex moral 1 problems". But the need for substantive value elucidation is not confined, of course, only to constitutional interpretation under Bills of Rights. This, however, immediately raises a dilemma stemming from the moral diversity and pluralism of modern liberal societies. How can law remain sensitive to this pluralism and yet provide clear answers to the problems which call for a legal resolution? Sharply conflicting values in modern societies clash in the debates over the death penalty, abortion, homosexuality, separation of state and religion, the scope of the freedom of the press, or affirmative action. lt would often be difficult to discern a broader consensus within which these clashes of values operate, unless this consensus were described in such vague terms as to render it practically meaningless. (shrink)
The main aim of this paper is to challenge the validity of the distinction between legal justice and social justice. It is argued that what we usually call legal justice is either an application of the more fundamental notion of social justice to legal rules and decisions or is not a matter of justice at all. In other words, the only correct uses of the notion of legal justice are derivative from the notion of social justice and, hence, the alleged (...) conflicts between criteria of social and legal justice result from the confusion about the proper relationship between these two concepts. Two views about the social justice/legal justice dichotomy are of particular importance and will provide the focus for the argument: this dichotomy is sometimes identified with a classical distinction between distributive and commutative justice and sometimes with the distinction between substantive and procedural justice. (shrink)
Is it the case that the law, in order to be fully legitimate, must not only be adopted in a procedurally correct way but must also comply with certain substantive values? In the first part of the article I prepare the ground for the discussion of legitimacy of democratic laws by considering the relationship between law’s legitimacy, its justification and the obligation to obey the law. If legitimacy of law is seen as based on the law being justified (as in (...) Raz’s ‘service conception’), our duty to obey it does not follow automatically: it must be based on some additional arguments. Raz’s conception of legitimate authority does not presuppose, as many critics claim, any unduly deferential attitude towards authorities. Disconnection of the law’s legitimacy from the absolute duty to obey it leads to the second part of the article which consists in a critical scrutiny of the claim that the democratically adopted law is legitimate only insofar as it expresses the right moral values. This claim is shown to be, under one interpretation (‘motivational’), nearly meaningless or, under another interpretation (‘constitutional’), too strong to survive the pressure from moral pluralism. While we cannot hope for a design of ‘pure procedural democracy’ (by analogy to Rawlsian ‘pure procedural justice’), democratic procedures express the values which animate the adoption of a democratic system in the first place. (shrink)
Abstract“Reason of state” is a concept that is rarely used in contemporary legal and political philosophy, compared to everyday parlance; “public reason,” in contrast, is ubiquitous, especially in liberal philosophy, as a legitimacy‐conferring device. In this article it is argued that the unpopularity of the notion of “reason of state” is partly due to its notorious ambiguity. Three different usages of the notion can be identified: a “thin” usage (where “reason of state” is equivalent to the common good); an “ironical” (...) usage (where it is used pejoratively to denounce it as a pretext for application of illegitimate or illegal means); and a “pre‐emptive” usage (where “reason of state” functions as a legitimate second‐order exclusionary reason used to override otherwise mandatory first‐order rules of action). It is argued that only the “thin” usage is helpful in a by‐and‐large liberal‐democratic context. The article then discusses the main dilemmas related to the concept of public reason, especially in its most influential, Rawlsian interpretation, and defends the concept against common critiques. Finally, the two concepts of “reason of state” and public reason are compared, and it is argued that a “thin” usage of “reason of state” is functionally equivalent to public reason, and that both resonate with the theory of “input democracy” (focusing, as it does, on the legitimacy of reasons—or motivations—for applying coercive rules to individuals). The article also identifies a problematic feature of “reason of state”: its emphasis on the state as a privileged interpreter of such reasons and/or as identifying the pool of actors within which the “constituency” of public reason is ascertained. There are good reasons to resist both of these consequences: the former because of its potentially authoritarian consequences, the latter because of reasons provided by cosmopolitan political conceptions. (shrink)
Freedom of speech and of the press have long been central rights within democratic polities, but there is little agreement as to their content, scope or justification. These essays take up fundamental issues concerning freedom of communication in general, and some controversial areas as well.
This title was first published in 2001. A collection of some of the most significant and influential articles on the theory of justice written from the perspectives of legal theory, ethics, political philosophy and political theory.
Traditionally, political legitimacy has been associated exclusively with states. But are states actually legitimate? And why should discussions of legitimacy focus only on the nation-state? This volume explores how legitimacy is intertwined with notions of statehood and how it reaches beyond the state into supranational institutions.
Legal philosophy must be based on a set of substantive political values about such fundamental matters as the nature of the political community and the meaning of human freedom. This general thesis is illustrated by the analysis of moral discourse about the justification and limits of liberty-rights and equality-rights.The most effective way of arguing about the liberal conception of individual liberties (consistent with the Millian Harm Principle) is by recourse to the priority of the right over the good. But this (...) conception is little more than a restatement of the Harm Principle itself hence, a more fundamental justification for it is required. This can be provided by a substantive conception of equality of individuals as moral agents who are capable of choosing, pursuing and changing their own conceptions of the good, within the parameters of avoiding harm to others. (shrink)
In this article, I examine the ways in which “Public Reason” (or public reasons, in plural) can be said to resonate with some types of reasons as presented and defended in contemporary legal theory. I begin by identifying the concept of Public Reason within the context of a discussion sparked by the between “internal” and “external” reasons, which was made famous by Bernard Williams. I will then compare this interpretation of Public Reason with Joseph Raz’s celebrated concept of exclusionary reasons. (...) Next, I refer to two concepts of moral “neutrality” and how such concepts affect our understanding of Public Reason. I also reflect upon whether it is tenable to draw a distinction between the good reasons for actions that we conduct in our own lives and good reasons to be adopted in public life. Finally, I raise the question of a distinction between the reasons which we press in general societal discourse and those that we press in the advocacy-related law-making process. (shrink)
Both the defenders and critics of judicial review assume tacitly that there is a special moral capacity needed for a correct articulation of constitutional (explicit or implied) rights, and they only disagree about who is likely to possess this moral capacity to a higher degree. In this working paper I challenge this unstated assumption. It is not the case that the reasoning oriented towards rights articulation is more moral than many non-rights-oriented authoritative public decisions in the society. Further, I suggest (...) that rights-related reasoning cannot be shown to be differently moral in a way which would support the idea that this relevant difference may justify why some political agents (such as judges) may be more suited to performing this particular type of moral reasoning than others (such as legislators). The best argument for such a distinction refers to the opportunity for and habit of conducting "moral thought experiments" which is what, as part of their professional duties, judges normally do, and which they can therefore instinctively do also when they engage in a "concrete" judicial review of a statute. But there is no good moral reason to believe that "moral thought experiments" triggered by specific fact-situations should be privileged as a method of moral reasoning, compared to an unashamedly abstract, principle-based moral reasoning. If anything, a good case may be made (referring to the need to openly acknowledge moral conflict, secure impartiality, equality and legitimacy) for deliberately abstracting from specific cases and focusing on the abstract and general level, only modifying it later, if one is compelled to such modifications by considering evidence from specific instances. Not even one half (the bottom-up half) of the Rawlsian famous "reflective equilibrium" apparatus can be of help in this regard. (shrink)
An important feature of some recent jurisprudential writings is the tendency to reject the precept of liberal individualism which affirms the priority of the principles of the "right conduct" over the substantive conceptions of "the good". This rejection, explicit in a recent book by Rogers M. Smith, and implicit in a recent work by Guido Calabresi, leads to strikingly illiberal consequences; hence, this provides indirect confirmation that the priority of the right over the good constitutes the most reliable defense of (...) individual liberty against majoritarian oppression. In Smith, an attempt to replace this priority with the principle of "rational liberty" leads to the disappearance of the guarantees of minority rights against orthodox majorities; in Calabresi, the doctrine of weighing and balancing competing moral principles of "the good" fails to provide an explanation for the strongly held moral intuition that some external preferences have to be disqualified at the outset, before they enter the forum of moral bargaining. (shrink)