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Philosophy of LawCollected Essays Volume IV$
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John Finnis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580088.001.0001

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Law's Authority and Social Theory's Predicament

Law's Authority and Social Theory's Predicament

(p.46) 2 Law's Authority and Social Theory's Predicament
Philosophy of Law

John Finnis

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores a central enterprise of legal theory: the explanation and justification of law's presumptive moral authority. Section I shows that Raz's rejection of it rests on an unwarranted assumption of social consensus. Section II surveys partly historically and partly systematically some main aspects of the struggle of contemporary social theories — notably Economic Analysis of Law, Game Theory, and Rational Choice Theory, with discussion also of Hobbes, Bentham, Kant, and Rawls — to make do with emaciated conceptions of practical reasonableness in relation to (in a broad sense) coordination problems. The critique suggests a better conception, and Section III returns to legal authority and the full conception of fairness that explains why a particular law can reasonably be judged morally binding even by those who regard it as unwise.

Keywords:   legal theory, moral authority of law, coordination problems, Economic Analysis of Law, Hobbes, Bethnam, Game Theory, Rational Choice Theory, Kant, Rawls

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