From shared agency to the normativity of law: Shapiro's and Coleman's defence of Hart's practice theory of rules reconsidered

Law and Philosophy 28 (1):59 - 100 (2009)
Colemanand Shapiro have recently advanced a second at- tempt to reconcile Hart’s practice theory of rules and the idea of the normativity of law; i.e., the idea that legal rules qua social rules give reasons for actions and, in some circumstances create and impose duties and obligations. Their argumentative strategy is to resort to elements in Bratman’s work on shared agency and planning, though they introduce important and substantive modifications to Bratman’s own explanation. Bratman describes his own theory as a modest theory of the will where the notion of planning plays a fundamental role. Both Shapiro’s and Coleman’s application of Bratman’s planning theory of agency to an authority structure such as law is impressive, but a number of objections can be levelled, with the intention of grasping both the nature of authority structures and the normativity of law. Although I have referred to Shapiro’s and Coleman’s applica- tions as being similar to one another, the differences are sub- stantive and important. I will scrutinise both Shapiro’s and Coleman’s explanations of ‘shared agency’ and discuss the objections that can be raised against each application.
Keywords Legal Philosophy  Shared agency  Intentional action
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