What is objectivity? What is the rule of law? Are the operations of legal systems objective? If so, in what ways and to what degrees are they objective? Does anything of importance depend on the objectivity of law? These are some of the principal questions addressed by Matthew H. Kramer in this lucid and wide-ranging study that introduces readers to vital areas of philosophical enquiry.
This book discusses theories of legal reasoning and provides an overall view of the rhetoric of legal justification. It shows how and why lawyers arguments can be rationally persuasive even though rarely, if ever, logically conclusive or compelling. It examines the role of "legal syllogism" and universality of legal reasoning, looking at arguments of consequentialism and principle, and concludes by questioning the infallibility of judges as lawmakers.
It is often argued that the rule of law is only instrumentally morally valuable, valuable when and to the extent that a legal system is used to purse morally valuable ends. In this paper, I defend Lon Fuller’s view that the rule of law has conditional non-instrumental as well as instrumental moral value. I argue, along Fullerian lines, that the rule of law is conditionally non-instrumentally valuable in virtue of the way a legal system structures political relationships. (...) The rule of law specifies a set of requirements which lawmakers must respect if they are to govern legally. As such, the rule of law restricts the illegal or extra-legal use of power. When a society rules by law, there are clear rules articulating the behavior appropriate for citizens and officials. Such rules ideally determine the particular contours political relationships will take. When the requirements of the rule of law are respected, the political relationships structured by the legal system constitutively express the moral values of reciprocity and respect for autonomy. The rule of law is instrumentally valuable, I argue, because in practice the rule of law limits the kind of injustice which governments pursue. There is in practice a deeper connection between ruling by law and the pursuit of moral ends than advocates of the standard view recognize. The next part of this paper outlines Lon Fuller’s conception of the rule of law and his explanation of its moral value. The third.. (shrink)
HLA Hart and Joseph Raz are usually interpreted as being fundamentally opposed to Lon Fullerâ€™s argument in The Morality of Law that the principles of the rule of law are of moral value. Hart and Raz are thought to make the â€˜instrumental objectionâ€™, which says that these principles are of no moral value because they are actually principles derived from reflection on how to best allow the law to guide behaviour. Recently, many theorists have come to Fullerâ€™s defence against (...) Hart and Raz, refuting the â€˜instrumental objectionâ€™ and affirming the non-instrumental moral value of conformity to the principles of legality. This article argues that although this moral value should be affirmed, the orthodox view is incorrect, because Hart and Raz never understood their arguments about the instrumental or â€˜purposiveâ€™ value of the principles of legality as denials of their moral value, as a close reading of their work shows. (shrink)
Corruption is a major problem in many of the world’s developing economies today. World Bank studies put bribery at over $1 trillion per year accounting for up to 12 of the GDP of nations like Nigeria, Kenya and Venezuela. Though largely ignored for many years, interest in world wide corruption has been rekindled by recent corporate scandals in the US and Europe. Corruption in the developing nations is said to result from a number of factors. Mass poverty has been cited (...) as a facilitating condition for corruption just as an inability to manage a sudden upsurge in mineral revenues has been credited with breeding corruption and adventurous government procurement among public officials in countries like Nigeria and Venezuela. Virtually all developing nations that have serious corruption problems also have very limited economic freedom and a very weak enforcement of the rule of law. In such nations, corruption represents a regressive taxation that bears hard on the poor. It has a dampening effect on development and it could result in the production of inferior goods as companies find ways to accommodate under-the-table payments. Finally, corruption is a dangerous threat to the legitimacy of the governments of some of the developing nations themselves. It is suggested that new urgent initiatives are needed to deal with the dangers posed by corruption in the developing economies. They include making the economies of these nations more open by the withdrawal of the government from the productive sector and by the abolition of unnecessarily stringent restrictions on business conduct. The rule of law needs to be strengthened in these nations and those countries like Nigeria and Venezuela should ignore scruples over sovereignty and seek foreign assistance in the management of their oil wealth. Finally, multinationals should be made to disclose all the payments they make in developing nations to such organizations like International Chamber of Commerce or Transparency International where they can be reviewed by anyone interested. (shrink)
A broad range of scholars contend that the rule of law is indifferent to human rights. I call this view the "no-rights thesis," and attempt to unsettle it. My argument draws on the work of Lon L. Fuller and begins with the idea that the fundamental justification of the rule of law rests on a juridical conception of human agency, one that finds expression in the legal and moral claims that can arise from human agency within the context (...) of legal relationships. I argue that the state and its legal subjects are in a particular kind of legal relationship with one another, a fiduciary relationship, and that the content of the state's ensuing fiduciary obligation is the rule of law. Because the rule of law is intelligible in terms of the right, and independently of the good, it follows that compliance with the rule of law necessarily makes a moral difference regardless of how poorly the state lives up to the demands of the good. This is a conceptual rather than an empirical claim, and it leads to the conclusion that respect for human agency in the context of the state-subject fiduciary relationship necessarily entails respect for human dignity, respect for human dignity entails respect for human rights, and therefore a commitment to the rule of law entails a commitment to human rights. (shrink)
The thesis that propositions of law are intrinsically arguable is opposed by the antithesis that the Rule of Law is valued for the sake of legal certainty. The synthesis considers the insights of theories of rhetoric and proceduralist theories of practical reason, then locates the problem of indeterminacy of law in the context of the challengeable character of governmental action under free governments. This is not incompatible with, but required by the Rule of Law, which is misstated as (...) securing legal certainty. Defeasible certainty is the most that is desirable or achievable. (shrink)
The presidential pardon as it currently exists is a violation of the separation of powers, checks and balances, and rule of law. With the exception of impeachment, the pardon power of the president is not subject to judicial review. The court has no rights to deny a pardon even though it may violate many explicit laws and implicit values of the constitution. It seems clear that the current form of the presidential power is a usurpation of the role of (...) the judiciary making the president judge and jury combining as it does the legislative and judicial function in the presidency. This unilateral and essentially unchecked power of the presidency threatens the consistency and unity of the government for it is independent and beyond the scope of legal restraint of the other branches of government. (shrink)
In this paper it is argued that different understandings of the requirements of the Rule of Law can to a large extent be explained by the position taken with regard to two interrelated distinctions. On the one hand, the Rule of Law can be regarded as either a principle of law or as a principle of governance. On the other hand, the requirements of the Rule of Law can be regarded as defining either a minimum standard which (...) something has to meet in order to be law or as an aspirational standard identifying what it means to be good law. In combination these two distinctions define a range of perspectives on the nature of the Rule of Law that are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. (shrink)
The rule of law is politico-legal realm of the modern society that it balances human gratifications, self-respect and prerequisites of legal order, after dissolution of the traditional society. Apart from our criticisms on the capitalist society there had been an expanding development of civic virtue of the human individual since early beginning of capitalism up to the 1980’ies when idea of self respect and the legal order relatively balanced. But, after neo-liberalism, the development is retrieving to the unbridled individualism, (...) detrimental to the human virtue of all humanity. (shrink)
At the core of republican thought, on Philip Pettits account, lies the conception of freedom as non-domination, as opposed to freedom as noninterference in the liberal sense. I revisit the distinction between liberal and republican freedom and argue that republican freedom incorporates a particular rule-of-law requirement, whereas liberal freedom does not. Liberals may also endorse such a requirement, but not as part of their conception of freedom itself. I offer a formal analysis of this rule-of-law requirement and compare (...) liberal and republican freedom on its basis. While I agree with Pettit that republican freedom has broader implications than liberal freedom, I conclude that we face a trade-off between two dimensions of freedom (scope and robustness) and that it is harder for republicans to solve that trade-off than it is for liberals. Key Words: freedom republicanism liberalism noninterference non-domination rule of law robustness liberal paradox. (shrink)
Parliamentary privilege immunises certain activities of legislative bodies and their members from the ordinary law and judicial scrutiny. The rule of law, on the other hand, insists that everyone - including public officials - is subject to the law. Moreover, the rule of law is usually understood to involve judicial review of executive rather than legislative action. Thus, parliamentary privilege seems to establish a public sphere that is beyond the rule of law. Notwithstanding the tension that appears (...) between these two ideas, I argue that parliamentary privilege and the rule of law, properly understood, support rather than oppose one another. However, the ideas can be reconciled only if we reject the jurisdictional and categorical approach to parliamentary privilege adopted recently by the Supreme Court of Canada in Canada (House of Commons) v. Vaid  1 S.C.R. 667, 2005 SCC 30. This approach should be rejected because it trades on an unsustainable distinction between review of the scope of an asserted privilege and review its actual exercise, with the Court finding that only issues of scope are subject to review, even if important human rights are at stake. (shrink)
Political reconciliation involves the repairing of damaged political relationships. This paper considers the possibility and moral justifiability of pursuing political reconciliation in the aftermath of systematic and egregious wrongdoing, in particular genocide. The first two sections discuss what political reconciliation specifically requires. I argue that it neither entails nor necessitates forgiveness. Rather, I claim, political reconciliation should be conceptualized as the (re-)establishment of Fullerian mutual respect for the rule of law. When a society governs by law, publicly declared legal (...) rules establish clear and practicable standards for behavior which are enforced in practice. Subjects of the law thus can form stable and reasonable predictions of how other citizens and officials will respond to their actions. After explaining why this analysis of political reconciliation is compelling, the third section spells out the implications of my analysis for determining the possibility of achieving and the justifiability of pursuing political reconciliation. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the idea of the rule of law as found in neo-liberal political and legal theory. The central argument is that it is not possible to produce an account of the rule of law and its basic building blocks in such theories—namely freedom, rights and justice—without reference to a set of shared substantive values. The crucial argument is that if freedom is understood negatively, as the absence of coercion, it is not in fact possible to (...) produce an account of coercion which detaches it from conceptions of the good. The impact of this argument is then analysed in relation to a range of themes, one of the central ones of which is that on the neo-liberal view the welfare state cannot be made compatible with the rule of law. The case for this important view is rejected in the paper. (shrink)
Abstract In his political writings, F. A. Hayek faces a classic liberal dilemma: he opposes coercion but recognizes that sometimes the state can help to minimize it. Hayek attempts to resolve the dilemma of the limits of state power by offering a definition of the rule of law that does not depend on a controversial conception of rights. However, his effort to formalize the rule of law fails. Not only does Hayek implicitly rely on an undefended theory of (...) rights, but his rule?of?law scheme is limited to the elaboration of general principles of good government, neglecting the need for reforms aimed directly at the political processes that result in the controversial forms of coercion he deplores. (shrink)
Many scholars assume a connection between the evolution of language and that of distinctively human group-level morality. Unfortunately, such thinkers frequently downplay a central implication of modern Darwinian theory, which precludes the possibility of innate psychological mechanisms evolving to benefit the group at the expense of the individual. Group level moral regulation is indeed central to public life in all known human communities. The production of speech acts would be impossible without this. The challenge, therefore, is to explain on a (...) Darwinian basis how life could have become subject to the rule of law. Only then will we have an appropriate social framework in which to contextualize our models of how language may have evolved. (shrink)
Retrospective rule-making has few supporters and many opponents. Defenders of retrospective laws generally do so on the basis that they are a necessary evil in specific or limited circumstances, for example to close tax loopholes, to deal with terrorists or to prosecute fallen tyrants. Yet the reality of retrospective rule making is far more widespread than this, and ranges from ’corrective’ legislation to ’interpretive regulations’ to judicial decision making. The search for a rational justification for retrospective (...) class='Hi'>rule-making necessitates a reconsideration of the very nature of the rule of law and the kind of law that can rule, and will provide new insights into the nature of law and the parameters of societal order. This book examines the various ways in which laws may be seen as retrospective and analyses the problems in defining retrospectivity. In his analysis Dr Charles Sampford asserts that the definitive argument against retrospective rule-making is the expectation of individuals that, if their actions today are considered by a future court, the applicable law was discoverable at the time the action was performed. The book goes on to suggest that although the strength of this ’rule of law’ argument should prevail in general, exceptions are sometimes necessary, and that there may even be occasions when analysis of the rule of law may provide the foundation for the application of retrospective laws. (shrink)
The rule of law offers legal certainty, laying down boundaries to the state's playing field. The precautionary approach stipulates that the absence of scientific certainty is no reason not to act to prevent harm. Here, uncertainty frames action. The precautionary approach potentially expands the state's playing field, and this expansion might well undermine the precepts of the rule of law. The certainty-uncertainty axis exposes a tension between the rule of law and the precautionary approach in what Ulrich (...) Beck has termed the world risk society in second modernity. It is this tension that is the focus of analysis in this article. (shrink)
Three paradigms of legal positivism -- The pure theory of law : science or political theory? -- Kelsen's principles of legality -- Kelsen's theory of democracy : reconciliation with social order -- Democratic constitutionalism : Kelsen's theory of constitutional review -- Kelsen's legal cosmopolitanism -- Conclusions : the pure theory of law and contemporary positivism.
The law within each legal system is a function of the practices of some social group. In short, law is a kind of socially grounded norm. H.L.A Hart famously developed this view in his book, The Concept of Law, by arguing that law derives from a social rule, the so-called “rule of recognition.” But the proposition that social facts play a foundational role in producing law is a point of consensus (...) for all modern jurisprudents in the Anglo-American tradition: not just Hart and his followers in the positivist school, most prominently Joseph Raz and Jules Coleman, but also the anti-positivist Ronald Dworkin, who argues that law necessarily synthesizes moral considerations with social facts. But which group’s practices ground each legal system? In particular, which group’s practices undergird U.S. law? Positivists since Hart have universally pointed to either officials or judges as the “recognitional community” (my term): the group such that its rules, conventions, cooperative activities, or practices in some other sense are the social facts from which the law of a given legal system derives. So Hart and all other positivists would identify either U.S. officials or U.S. judges as the recognitional community for U.S. law. This Article grapples with the tension between the positivist’s official- or judge-centered account of the recognitional community and the “popular constitutionalism” now so widely defended by constitutional scholars such as Larry Kramer, Robert Post, Reva Siegel, Mark Tushnet, Jeremy Waldron, and many others. Surely the popular constitutionalist would want to claim that U.S. citizens, not judges or officials, are the recognitional community for U.S. law. I term this position “deep popular constitutionalism.” Indeed, it turns out that Dworkin’s account of law, in its ambition to generate associative moral obligations for the citizenry as a whole, implies deep popular constitutionalism. Here there is a disagreement, hitherto unnoticed, between Dworkin and the positivists. My solution to this disagreement – to the debate between deep popular constitutionalists and deep official or judicial supremacists -- is to dissolve it by providing a group-relative account of law. Social norms, such as norms of dress or eating, are clearly group-relative. A particular dressing or eating behavior may be socially appropriate relative to one group’s norms, yet socially inappropriate relative to another’s. This Article extends the group-relative view from social norms to law itself, with a particular focus on U.S. law and constitutionalism. Part I surveys the jurisprudential literature. It shows how Hart and successor positivists identify the rule of recognition as a social practice engaged in by officials or some subset of officials (judges), rather than citizens generally, and argues that Dworkin by contrast sees the citizenry as a whole as his recognitional community. Parts II and III defend a group-relative account of law. Part II argues, with reference to the U.S. experience, that multiple groups can simultaneously instantiate the kind of social fact that undergirds law, be it a convention, a social norm, a “shared cooperative activity” (SCA), or something else. At many points in U.S. constitutional history, multiple official or citizen groups, defined along departmental, partisan, regional, state-federal, religious, or other lines, have accepted competing rules of recognition for U.S. law. Part III argues that “law” functions, primarily, as either an explanatory or a normative construct, and that insisting on a single recognitional community for each legal system would be arbitrary, both for explanatory purposes and for normative purposes. Part IV considers the many implications of the group-relative account for U.S. constitutional theory – in particular, for popular constitutionalism. (shrink)
Rules are a central component of such diverse enterprises as law, morality, language, games, religion, etiquette, and family governance, but there is often confusion about what a rule is, and what rules do. Offering a comprehensive philosophical analysis of these questions, this book challenges much of the existing legal, jurisprudential, and philosophical literature, by seeing a significant role for rules, an equally significant role for their stricter operation, and making the case for rules as devices for the allocation of (...) power among decision-makers. (shrink)
Few automated legal reasoning systems have been developed in domains of law in which a judicial decision maker has extensive discretion in the exercise of his or her powers. Discretionary domains challenge existing artificial intelligence paradigms because models of judicial reasoning are difficult, if not impossible to specify. We argue that judicial discretion adds to the characterisation of law as open textured in a way which has not been addressed by artificial intelligence and law researchers in depth. We demonstrate that (...) systems for reasoning with this form of open texture can be built by integrating rule sets with neural networks trained with data collected from standard past cases. The obstacles to this approach include difficulties in generating explanations once conclusions have been inferred, difficulties associated with the collection of sufficient data from past cases and difficulties associated with integrating two vastly different paradigms. A knowledge representation scheme based on the structure of arguments proposed by Toulmin has been used to overcome these obstacles. The system, known as Split Up, predicts judicial decisions in property proceedings within family law in Australia. Predictions from the system have been compared to those from a group of lawyers with favourable results. (shrink)
An interesting fact about customary international law is that the only way you can propose an amendment to it is by breaking it. How can that be differentiated from plain law-breaking? What moral standards might apply to that sort of international conduct? I propose we use ones analogous to the ordinary standards for distinguishing civil disobedients from ordinary law-breakers: would-be law-makers, like civil disobedients, must break the law openly; they must accept the legal consequences of doing so; and they must (...) be prepared to have the same rules applied to them as everyone else. (shrink)
An introduction to the philosophy of law, which offers a modern and critical appraisal of all the main issues and problems. This has become a very active area in the last ten years, and one on which philosophers, legal practitioners and theorists and social scientists have tended to converge. The more abstract questions about the nature of law and its relationship to social norms and moral standards are now seen to be directly relevant to more practical and indeed pressing questions (...) about the justification of punishment, civil disobedience, the enforcement of morality, and problems about justice, rights, welfare, and freedom. David Lyons is a shrewd, clear and systematic guide through this tangled area. The book presupposes no formal training in law or philosophy and is intended to serve as a textbook in a range of introductory courses. (shrink)
Do citizens have an obligation to obey the law? This book differs from standard approaches by shifting from the language of obedience (orders) to that of deference (normative judgments). The popular view that law claims authority but does not have it is here reversed on both counts: Law does not claim authority but has it. Though the focus is on political obligation, the author approaches that issue indirectly by first developing a more general account of when deference is due to (...) the view of others. Two standard practices that political theorists often consider in exploring the question of political obligation - fair-play and promise-keeping - can themselves be seen as examples of a duty of deference. In this respect the book defends a more general theory of ethics whose scope extends beyond the question of political obligation to questions of duty in the case of law, promises, fair play and friendship. (shrink)
Ever since Jeremy Bentham wrote his scathing critique of the law of evidence, both philosophers and legal scholars have criticized the exclusionary rules of evidence, arguing that formal rules excluding entire classes of evidence for alleged unreliability violate basic epistemological maxims mandating that all relevant evidence be considered. Although particular pieces of evidence might be excluded as unreliable, they argue, it is a mistake to make such judgments for entire categories, as opposed to making them only in the context of (...) particular pieces of evidence offered for specific purposes. This paper challenges these claims, arguing that rule-based exclusions serve similar purposes to those served by rules in rule-consequentialist moral theories, and that, even more importantly, they are entirely consistent with the exclusionary nature of legal rules in general. Indeed, once we see the role that exclusionary rules might serve in legal epistemology, we can see that they might have a role to play in epistemic appraisal more generally. (shrink)
In this paper, I suggest that for some proposed solutions to global justice problems, incompatibility with the necessary features of international law is a reason to reject them. I illustrate this by discussing the problem raised by the case of unjust combatants, that is, combatants lacking a just cause for war. I argue that the principle of inequality of combatants, which suggests that we ought to prohibit those without a just cause for war from fighting, is not only a bad (...) international legal principle, but also a bad principle of global justice. (shrink)
A small sample of sitting Chinese judges was each asked to describe a difficult case, what ethical issues were involved in the case, and how ethics hampered the case, among other questions. The narratives of the cases from family settings suggest—rising from the stew of Chinese social, political, and legal history, the mix of socialist and Confucian ethics, and case facts—that future research on the influence of Confucian ethics may well show that Chinese judges moderate (“democratize”) the rigors of a (...)rule-based legal system, or that they feel pressure to do so by their ethics (which, for disputes and crimes in a family setting their ethics, are Confucian ethics). We argue that “democratizing” the legal system by including society’s ethics is allowable but unless there is a regular discourse on the role of Confucian ethics in legal decisions judges will continue to feel ethical tension as they go about their work. We recommend that ethics discourse be included along with the Chinese government’s structural reforms such as increasing legal education, mandating codes of judicial ethics, and other measures calculated to align the legal system with the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct 2002. (shrink)
In Sovereignty’s Promise: The State as Fiduciary, Evan Fox-Decent uses the idea of fiduciary relationships to explain the legitimate exercise of governmental authority. He makes use of the idea of the state as a fiduciary for the people to ground an account of the duty to obey the law, to explain the proper relationships between colonial (or “settler”) societies and aboriginal populations, the role of agency discretion and judicial review in the administrative state, the rule of law, the relationship (...) between law and morality, and the foundations of human rights. While I was not convinced by several of the arguments, the book does have many important virtues. In particular, it provides a clear discussion of the idea of fiduciary relationships and duties that is useful for, and should be largely accessible to, non-lawyers. And, though I do not think that Fox-Decent has established all that he hoped to in the book, he does a good job of showing how fiduciary relationships are relevant to the above issues and worth considering. (shrink)
It is beyond doubt that the legal system established by the Nazi government in Germany between 1933-1945 represented a gross departure from the rule of law: the Nazis eradicated legal security and certainty; allowed for judicial and state arbitrariness; blocked epistemic access to what the law requires; issued unpredictable legal requirements; and so on. This introduction outlines the distorted nature of the Nazi legal system and looks at the main factors that contributed to this grave divergence.
In this one-of-a-kind text, George P. Fletcher, a renowned legal theorist, offers a provocative yet accessible overview of the basics of legal thought. The first section of the book is designed to introduce the reader to fundamental concepts such as the rule of law and deciding cases under the law. It continues with an analysis of the values of justice, desert, consent, and equality, as they figure into our judgment of legal cultures in terms of soundness and legitimacy. The (...) final chapters address the problems of morality and consistency in the law. In each case the author not only introduces the basic ideas but considers important arguments in the contemporary literature and raises original claims of his own. Ideally suited for courses in the philosophy of law, legal issues, and jurisprudence, Basic Concepts of Legal Thought fills a void in the literature, as there is no other volume that both eases law students into the mysteries of legal philosophy and provides an introduction to the legal mind for non-lawyers. (shrink)