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

Law and Philosophy 20 (1):31-59 (2001)
In this article, I argue that law has two oftenneglected functions: the expressive and thecommunicative functions. They are especially importantfor legislation on moral issues, such as biomedicalethics and anti-discrimination law. The communicativefunction of law is a complex one: law may create anormative framework, a vocabulary to structurenormative discussions, as well as institutions andprocedures that promote further discussion. Theexpressive function of law is at stake when itexpresses which fundamental standards, which valuesare regarded as important. The recognition of thesefunctions is not only important for descriptivepurposes; it is also fruitful for normative theory.
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