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Rights, Culture and the LawThemes from the Legal and Political Philosophy of Joseph Raz$
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Lukas H. Meyer, Stanley L. Paulson, and Thomas W. Pogge

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248254

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248254.001.0001

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Legal Reasoning and the Authority of Law

Legal Reasoning and the Authority of Law

(p.71) 5 Legal Reasoning and the Authority of Law
Rights, Culture and the Law


Oxford University Press

Joseph Raz's theory of law makes the notion of authority central. In so far as the law is authoritative, it mediates between the reasons that apply to the subjects of the law and those subjects themselves, by providing guidance via exclusionary reasons in the form of rights, duties, rules, etc. An important aspect of Raz's characterisation of authority is what is termed the ‘practical difference thesis’: in so far as authorities mediate between the reasons for action and the subjects of the authority to whom those reasons apply, the directives of the authority have practical importance because they tell the subject how to act so that he does not need directly to consider (at least some of) the reasons that would bear on his acting in the particular circumstance. This chapter discusses legal reasoning and the authority of law, Raz's normal justification thesis, Ronald Dworkin's views on moral expertise and common law legal expertise, incomplete theorisation in law, and transparency and universality of moral reasoning.

Keywords:   Joseph Raz, Ronald Dworkin, legal reasoning, authority, practical difference thesis, normal justification thesis, reasons for action, moral expertise, legal expertise, moral reasoning

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