AboutMoralityandthenatureoflaw - About Morality and the...

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About Morality and the Nature of Llaw By Joseph Raz 1. On the necessary connection test Two innocent truisms about the law lie behind much of the difficulty we have in understanding the relations between law and morality. The law can be valuable, but it can also be the source 1 of much evil . Not everyone agrees to these truisms, and there is nothing inappropriate in challenging them, or examining their credentials. They are, however, truisms in being taken by most people to be obviously true and beyond question. In other words, they express many people's direct reactions to or understanding of the phenomena, an understanding which is open to theoretical challenge, but has to be taken as correct absent a successful theoretical challenge There is no conflict between the truisms. People and much else in the world can be the source of both good and evil. Trouble begins when we ask ourselves whether it is entirely contingent whether the law is the source of good or ill in various societies, or how much good and how much evil there is in it. There has, of course, been enthusiastic and persisting support for claiming that the connection between law and morality is not contingent. The support comes from contradictory directions. Some strands in political anarchism claim that it is of the essence of law to have features which render it inconsistent with morality. Hence the law is essentially immoral. 2 A clear example of this in recent times has been Robert Paul Wolff's argument that the law in its nature requires obedience regardless of one's judgement about the merit of the obeying conduct, and that this is inconsistent with people's moral autonomy which requires them to take responsibility for their actions and to act only on their own judgement on the merit of 1 I say that the law can be the source of much evil, meaning that the evil is brought about by human beings, but that the law often plays a causal role in bring it about, in facilitating its occurrence. 2 This normally means that ‘legal authorities’ do not have moral authority, and the law they make and enforce is not morally binding on us, at least not as it claims to bind. (See the Appendix for a discussion of the claims of the law.) this allows that the law can also be a source of good in ways which fall short of possessing authority.
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J. Raz, About Morality and the nature of law their actions. 1 Diametrically opposed to this variant of anarchism is, e.g., a variety of Thomist natural law views which regard the law as good in its very nature. 2 Both sides of this particular dispute admit that the law can do some good (even according to the anarchists), and that it can be the source of evil (even according to the Thomists). Anarchists can admit that some laws are sensible. They can admit that their directives can
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This note was uploaded on 03/06/2012 for the course DEBA 101 taught by Professor Bob during the Spring '12 term at Colby-Sawyer.

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AboutMoralityandthenatureoflaw - About Morality and the...

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