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Equality and Legitimacy$
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Wojciech Sadurski

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199545179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199545179.001.0001

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Law's Legitimacy and Democracy

Law's Legitimacy and Democracy

(p.1) 1 Law's Legitimacy and Democracy
Equality and Legitimacy

Wojciech Sadurski

Oxford University Press

This chapter prepares 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 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.

Keywords:   equality, obligation to obey the law, legal obligation, political obligation, authority, legal theory, philosophy of law, democratic theory, public reason, constitutional theory

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