While the impetus for much legal positivism is the

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While the impetus for much Legal Positivism is the desire to make an accurate general statement of law as an operating system, debating with this tradition leads to modern natural law theorists claiming that such descriptions are incomplete without including ethical elements. Lon Fuller, offered a procedural version of Natural Law theory. His writing has the element of social contract theories. Fuller makes no claim for the substantive content of law. He concentrates instead on the conditions necessary for a citizenry to be capable of obeying law, of being subject to ‘governance of rules’. These conditions provide one version of what is commonly described as the ‘Rule of Law’. For Fuller, the quality of a legal system as law, as opposed to something less, is crucially linked to the idea of obedience. If there are procedural requirements for good law, then every law, even the most technical regulation, can be subject to a critique in terms of its accessibility to citizens; their ability to obey it. John Finnis offered a Natural Law theory that is not based on Christianity or any other theology. It involves what is essentially a liberal conception of the good. Rather than seeking
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to defend the particular practices of any society, Finnis seeks to identify the values that underlie all human activity, arguing that such activity affirms these values. The values he identifies are life, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience, friendship, religion, and practical reasonableness. Our common ability to experience these things gives meaning to our understanding of a common good. Finnis does not claim that all systems of law have sought to acknowledge and respect the experience and values to all humans. But he claims that systems of law which genuinely engage in this enterprise are more complete examples of what constitutes law, than those that do not. Finnis’ aim is not simply to assert that one can have ethical theories about the proper role of the state, but to engage with Legal Positivism, and its presentation of legal practice. Finnis insists that all those involved in the administration of law, whether in legislation or adjudication, are parts of a system whose purpose must be, if it is to realize its ‘proper’ purpose, the achievement of the common good. The best known contemporary attempt to assert the relevance of moral reasoning to legal practice is found in the works of Ronald Dworkin. His theory seeks to demonstrate the inability of theories which deny the relevance of moral reasoning to account for the practices of legal officials, most importantly, the judiciary. He seeks to argue that adjudication cannot be separated from ethical reasoning, and to argue in turn for the importance of adjudication in establishing the content of any law.
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