Authority and representation

Law and Philosophy 19 (2):223-246 (2000)
Abstract
The act of `setting the law' enjoys a central position in Kelsen's theory of authority. His analysis of this act criticizes, amongst others, the assumption of natural-law doctrines that norms are objective when they duplicate a content given directly to cognition and independently of the act whereby the norm is enacted. Correctly, Kelsen attacks the concept of representation underlying this assumption as an example of metaphysical dualism and a copy theory of knowledge. Does, then, an alternative understanding of authority require scrapping representation from a theory of positive law? Or does it require interpreting representation differently? Following the second path, this paper reconstructs the act of setting the law in terms of the critical concept of representation developed by Ernst Cassirer and suggests how, thus reconstructed, the structure of this act can account for the law's authority and its contingency.
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