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Reason, Morality, and LawThe Philosophy of John Finnis$
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John Keown and Robert P. George

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675500

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199675500.001.0001

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Ideas of Easy Virtue

Ideas of Easy Virtue

(p.346) 21 Ideas of Easy Virtue
Reason, Morality, and Law

Timothy Macklem

Oxford University Press

The opening chapter of Natural Law and Natural Rights offers a deft reconciliation between the view that law is to be identified by its sources rather than its merits and the view that law cannot be identified other than by reference to its merits. Yet can the reconciliation be sustained? Or is the relation between concepts and the values that may be realized under their description more open-ended than Finnis allows? This chapter suggests that there is fluidity in both directions: that rather than being tied to the realization of any value in particular, or any set of values, concepts are typically evaluatively promiscuous, lending themselves to the pursuit of a range of values and disvalues that is circumscribed but not closed. By the same token, accounts of concepts are never evaluatively uncommitted and seldom evaluatively neutral; rather, they are typically susceptible to a range of renderings, each with its distinct evaluative potential.

Keywords:   John Finnis, sources of law, legal merit

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