This article defends legal instrumentalism, i.e. the thesis that law is distinguished among social institutions more by the means by which it serves its ends, than by the ends it serves. In Kelsen's terms, '[L]aw is a means, a specific social means, not an end.' The defence is indirect. First, it is argued that the instrumentalist thesis is an interpretation of a broader view about law that is common ground among theorists as different as Aquinas and Bentham. Second, the following (...) familiar fallacies that seem to stand in the way of accepting the thesis are refuted: (1) If law is an instrument, then law can have no non-instrumental value. (2) If law is an instrument, then law always has instrumental value. (3) For law to be an instrument, there must be generic end that law serves. (4) If law is an instrument, law must be a neutral instrument. These claims are all wrong. In passing, the instrumentalist thesis is distinguished from other, unrelated, views sometimes associated with instrumentalism, including Brian Tamanaha's diagnosis of the vices of American law, and the views of those who think that jurisprudence is an instrument in the service of social ends. (shrink)
Lawyers and philosophers have long debated whether law should enforce social morality. This paper explores whether law should improve social morality. It explains how this might be possible, and what sort of obstacles, factual and moral, there are to doing so. It concludes with an example: our law should attempt to improve our social morality of sexual conduct.
Leslie Green (2012). Obscenity Without Borders. In François Tanguay-Renaud & James Stribopoulos (eds.), Rethinking Criminal Law Theory: New Canadian Perspectives in the Philosophy of Domestic, Transnational, and International Criminal Law. Hart Publishing.
Why is it that toleration can be uncomfortable for the tolerated? And how should tolerators respond to that discomfort? This paper argues that properly directed toleration can be deficient in its scope, grounds or spirit. That explains some of the discomfort in being tolerated. Beyond this, the occasions for toleration - the existence of a power to prevent and of an adverse judgment - can also make toleration sting. The paper then explores and rejects two familiar suggestions about how one (...) should respond to this discomfort: with acceptance or recognition of the tolerated. It is proposed instead that toleration should be supplemented by understanding. The nature and importance of this attitude are assessed. (shrink)
This is the penultimate draft of a paper originally presented at the Hart-Fuller at 50 conference, held at the NYU Law School in February 2008. A revised version will appear in the NYU Law Review. The paper seeks to clarify and assess HLA Hart's famous claim that legal positivism somehow involves a 'separation of law and morals.' The paper contends that Hart's 'separability thesis should not be confused with the 'social thesis,' with the 'sources thesis,' or with a methodological thesis (...) about jurisprudence. Hart's thesis denies the existence of necessary (conceptual) connections between law and morality. But that thesis is false: there are many necessary connections between law and morality, some of them conceptually significant. Among these is an important negative connection: law is of its nature morally fallible and morally risky. Lon Fuller emphasised the 'internal morality of law,' the 'morality that makes law possible'. Hart stressed that there is also an immorality that law makes possible. Law's nature is seen not only in its internal virtues, in legality, but also in its internal vices, in legalism. (shrink)
The modern state claims supreme authority over the lives of all its citizens. Drawing together political philosophy, jurisprudence, and public choice theory, this book forces the reader to reconsider some basic assumptions about the authority of the state. -/- Various popular and influential theories - conventionalism, contractarianism, and communitarianism - are assessed by the author and found to fail. Leslie Green argues that only the consent of the governed can justify the state's claims to authority. While he denies that there (...) is a general obligation to obey the law, he nonetheless rejects philosophical anarchism and defends civility - the willingness to tolerate some imperfection in institutions - as a political virtue. (shrink)