The expressive and communicative functions of law, especially with regard to moral issues

Law and Philosophy 20 (1):31-59 (2001)
Abstract
In this article, I argue that law has two often neglected functions: the expressive and the communicative functions. They are especially important for legislation on moral issues, such as biomedical ethics and anti-discrimination law. The communicative function of law is a complex one: law may create a normative framework, a vocabulary to structure normative discussions, as well as institutions and procedures that promote further discussion. The expressive function of law is at stake when it expresses which fundamental standards, which values are regarded as important. The recognition of these functions is not only important for descriptive purposes; it is also fruitful for normative theory.
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