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Profile: William A. Edmundson (Georgia State University)
  1. William A. Edmundson, Comments on Coherence Theory in the Philosophy of Law.
    Coherentism, in philosophy generally, is of either an epistemological or a metaphysical type. The epistemological type responds to worries about foundationalism that have no serious counterpart within the philosophy of law. The metaphysical type is implausible generally, but has been put to use within the philosophy of law - by Ronald Dworkin in particular - to close up "gaps" in the law that provide an opening for purportedly worrisome exercises of judicial discretion. These remarks conclude with the suggestion that the (...)
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  2. William A. Edmundson, Do Animals Need Rights?
    The idea of animal rights makes many people skittish. Even many advocates of better treatment of animals sense that the language of rights is misplaced and unhelpful in the forum of debate about the ethical treatment of animals. Rights theory is the intellectual home of these misgivings. This paper has two parts. In the first, I speak through a composite figure I call the animal-rights skeptic. The skeptic weaves views taken from the “will” (or “choice”) theory of the conceptual nature (...)
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  3. William A. Edmundson, Morality Without Responsibility.
    Morality as we know it seems inextricably involved with notions of responsibility, desert, and blame. But a number of philosophers (e.g., Pereboom, G. Strawson) have concluded that responsibility in the desert-supporting sense rests upon metaphysical presuppositions that are unsatisfiable whether or not determinism is true. Some of these philosophers go on to argue that we ought - morally ought - to discard the idea of moral responsibility. Is this proposal coherent? Could morality intelligibly be practiced in a way that dispenses (...)
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  4. William A. Edmundson (forthcoming). Ought We to Do What We Ought to Be Made to Do? In Georgios Pavlakos Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco (ed.), Practical Normativity. Essays on Reasons and Intentions in Law and Practical Reason. Cambridge University Press.
    The late Jerry Cohen struggled to reconcile his egalitarian political principles with his personal style of life. His efforts were inconclusive, but instructive. This comment locates the core of Cohen’s discomfort in an abstract principle that connects what we morally ought to be compelled to do and what we have a duty to do anyway. The connection the principle states is more general and much tighter than Cohen and others, e.g. Thomas Nagel, have seen. Our principles of justice always put (...)
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  5. William A. Edmundson (forthcoming). Schmegality. Jurisprudence.
    This is a review essay on Scott J. Shapiro's Legality, published in 2011 by Harvard U.P.
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  6. William A. Edmundson (2014). Why Legal Theory is Political Philosophy. Legal Theory 19 (4):1-16.
    The concept of law is not a theorist's invention but one that people use every day. Thus one measure of the adequacy of a theory of law is its degree of fidelity to the concept as it is understood by those who use it. That means as far as possible. There are important truisms about the law that have an evaluative cast. The theorist has either to say what would make those evaluative truisms true or to defend her choice to (...)
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  7. William A. Edmundson (2013). Politics in a State of Nature. Ratio Juris 26 (2):149-186.
    Aristotle thought we are by nature political animals, but the state-of-nature tradition sees political society not as natural but as an artifice. For this tradition, political society can usefully be conceived as emerging from a pre-political state of nature by the exercise of innate normative powers. Those powers, together with the rest of our native normative endowment, both make possible the construction of the state, and place sharp limits on the state's just powers and prerogatives. A state-of-nature theory has three (...)
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  8. William A. Edmundson (2013). Because I Said So. Problema: Anuario de Filosofía y Teoría Del Derecho 7:41-61.
    Political authority is the moral power to impose moral duties upon a perhaps unwilling citizenry. David Enoch has proposed that authority be understood as a matter of "robust" duty-giving. This paper argues that Enoch's conditions for attempted robust duty- or reason-giving are, along with his non-normative success condition, implausibly strong. Moreover, Enoch's attempt and normative- success conditions ignore two facts. The first is that success requires that citizens be tolerant of modest errors by the authority, which means that, in conditions (...)
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  9. William A. Edmundson (2012). Coercion. In Andrei Marmor (ed.), Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Law. Routledge.
    This chapter explains the concept of coercion as it features in recent legal and political philosophical work.
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  10. David Copp, Gerald Gaus, Henry S. Richardson, William A. Edmundson, David Estlund & Edward Slingerland (2011). 10. Larry May, Genocide: A Normative Account Larry May, Genocide: A Normative Account (Pp. 465-469). Ethics 121 (2).
     
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  11. William A. Edmundson (2011). Consent and Its Cousins. Ethics 121 (2):335-53.
    Consent theories of political obligation draw upon the unique powers consent exhibits in everyday dealings, but they are frustrated by the "problem of massive nonconsent." Expansions of what is counted as consent, such as tacit or hypothetical consent, have seemed untrue to the core concept of giving willing consent. David Estlund proposes a novel conception, "normative consent," to address the problem of massive nonconsent while being true to "the idiom of consent." This comment details consent’s virtues and shows that consent (...)
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  12. William A. Edmundson (2011). Shmegality: A Review of Scott J Shapiro, Legality. [REVIEW] Jurisprudence 2 (1):273-291.
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  13. William A. Edmundson (2010). Political Authority, Moral Powers and the Intrinsic Value of Obedience. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 30 (1):179-191.
    Three concepts—authority, obedience and obligation—are central to understanding law and political institutions. The three are also involved in the legitimation of the state: an apology for the state has to make a normative case for the state’s authority, for its right to command obedience, and for the citizen’s obligation to obey the state’s commands. Recent discussions manifest a cumulative scepticism about the apologist’s task. Getting clear about the three concepts is, of..
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  14. William A. Edmundson (2010). Review: Ripstein, Force and Freedom: Kant's Legal and Political Philosophy. [REVIEW] Ethics 120 (4):869-873.
  15. William A. Edmundson (2009). Pluralism, Intransitivity, Incoherence. In Mark White (ed.), THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS OF LAW AND ECONOMICS. Cambridge University Press.
    Pluralism is an appealing and now orthodox view of the sources of value. But pluralism has led to well-known difficulties for social-choice theory. Moreover, as Susan Hurley has argued, the difficulties of pluralism go even deeper. In 1954, Kenneth May suggested an intrapersonal analogue to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem. In brief, May showed that an individual's response to a plurality of values will, given certain additional assumptions, lead to intransitive preference orderings. (Daniel Kahneman and others have shown that intransitivity is an (...)
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  16. William A. Edmundson (2007). Schauer on Precedent in the U.S. Supreme Court. Georgia State University Law Review 24 (2):403-13.
    Recent critics of the Roberts Court chide it for its lack of regard for precedent. Fred Schauer faults these critics for erroneously assuming that a rule of stare decisis formerly played a significant role in the Supreme Court's decision-making. In fact, it has long played only a rare and weak role in the Court's work. Nonetheless, according to Schauer, the critics are to be thanked for invigorating a needed debate about the importance of "stability, consistency, settlement, reliance, notice, and predictability" (...)
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  17. William A. Edmundson (2006). The Virtue of Law-Abidance. Philosophers' Imprint 6 (4):1-21.
    The last half-century has seen a steady loss of confidence in the defensibility of a duty to obey the law — even a qualified, pro tanto duty to obey the laws of a just or nearly just state. Over roughly the same period, there has been increasing interest in virtue ethics as an alternative to the dominant consequentialist and deontological approaches to normative ethics. Curiously, these two tendencies have so far only just barely linked up. Although there has been discussion (...)
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  18. William A. Edmundson (2005). Comments on Richard Arneson's “Joel Feinberg and the Justification of Hard Paternalism”. Legal Theory 11 (3):285-291.
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  19. William A. Edmundson (2005). First Force. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 1 (3):1-8.
    s the very existence of government morally problematic? Is government morally problematic, that is, in a way that a “state of nature” is not? Many political philosophers have thought so. I will argue that they are wrong. If that seems too easy, I also will argue that the modern welfare state is no more problematic, morally, than a minimal, “nightwatchman” state. (If all of this seems too easy, I hope to convince you that it is not as easy as you (...)
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  20. William A. Edmundson (2005). Privacy. In Martin P. Golding & William A. Edmundson (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory. Blackwell Pub..
     
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  21. Martin P. Golding & William A. Edmundson (eds.) (2005). The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory. Blackwell Pub..
     
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  22. William A. Edmundson (2004). State of the Art: The Duty to Obey the Law. Legal Theory 10 (4):215–259.
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  23. William A. Edmundson (2003). Locke and Load: A Review of A. John Simmons, Justification and Legitimacy: Essays on Rights and Obligations. [REVIEW] Law and Philosophy 22 (2):195-216.
  24. William A. Edmundson (2003). A Review of A. John Simmons. [REVIEW] Law and Philosophy 22 (2):195-216.
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  25. William A. Edmundson (2002). Civility as Political Constraint. Res Publica 8 (3):217-229.
    The everyday virtue of civility functions as a constraint upon informal social pressures. Can civility also be understood, as John Rawls has proposed, as a distinctively political constraint? I contrast Rawls's project of constraining the political with Mill's of constraining both the social and the political, and explore Rawls's account of the relation between the two. I argue that Rawls's political duty of civility rests on the assumption that the political is peculiarly coercive; ignores the social enforcement of morality; and (...)
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  26. William A. Edmundson (2002). Contextualist Answers to Skepticism, and What a Lawyer Cannot Know. Florida State University Law Review 30:1-23.
    Contextualism answers skepticism by proposing a variable standard of justification, keyed to the context of utterance. A lawyer's situation with respect to a criminal defendant's factual guilt is a special one. The argument here is that in this special context an especially high standard of epistemic justification applies. The standard is even more exacting than the proof-beyond-reasonable-doubt standard that juries are sworn to follow. The upshot is that criminal defense lawyers normally cannot know that a client is factually guilt.
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  27. William A. Edmundson (2002). Speeding: A Sprawling Offense? Fulton County Daily Report 10.
    Urban sprawl and aggressive driving are two problems that afflict many of America’s major cities. The two affect Atlanta to a notoriously high degree. The two problems are connected. Aggressive driving is not so much a symptom of “road rage” as it is an attempt to communicate with slower drivers. The aggressive driver tailgates other drivers with the intention of letting them know that they are impeding the flow of faster traffic. Aggressive drivers are engaged in what “New Chicago School” (...)
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  28. William A. Edmundson (2002). Afterword: Proportionality and the Difference Death Makes. Criminal Justice Ethics 21 (2):40-43.
    Proponents and opponents of the death penalty both typically assume that punishment, in some form or other, is justified, somehow or other, and that just punishment must in some sense be proportionate to the crime. These shared assumptions turn out to embarrass both parties. Proponents have to explain why certain prima facie proportionate punishments, such as torture, are off the table, while death remains, so to speak, on it. Opponents have to explain why their favored alternatives to capital punishment, such (...)
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  29. William A. Edmundson (2001). Arthur Ripstein, Equality, Responsibility, and the Law:Equality, Responsibility, and the Law. Ethics 111 (3):644-648.
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  30. William A. Edmundson (1999). Antony Duff, Ed., Philosophy and the Criminal Law: Principle and Critique Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 19 (5):325-327.
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  31. William A. Edmundson (1998). Jaap C. Hage, Reasoning with Rules: An Essay on Legal Reasoning and Its Underlying Logic Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 18 (3):178-179.
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  32. William A. Edmundson (1998). Legitimate Authority Without Political Obligation. Law and Philosophy 17 (1):43 - 60.
    It is commonly supposed that citizens of a reasonably just state have a prima facie duty to obey its laws. In recent years, however, a number of influential political philosophers have concluded that there is no such duty. But how can the state be a legitimate authority if there is no general duty to obey its laws? This article is an attempt to explain how we can make sense of the idea of legitimate political authority without positing the existence of (...)
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  33. William A. Edmundson (1995). Is Law Coercive? Legal Theory 1 (1):81-111.
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  34. William A. Edmundson (1994). Book Review:Ronald Dworkin. Stephen Guest. [REVIEW] Ethics 104 (2):394-.
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  35. William A. Edmundson (1993). Rethinking Exclusionary Reasons: A Second Edition of Joseph Raz's. [REVIEW] Law and Philosophy 12 (3):329-343.
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  36. William A. Edmundson (1993). Review: Rethinking Exclusionary Reasons: A Second Edition of Joseph Raz's "Practical Reason and Norms". [REVIEW] Law and Philosophy 12 (3):329 - 343.
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  37. William A. Edmundson (1990). Liberalism, Legal Decisionmaking, and Morality 'as Such'. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 10 (4):505-521.
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  38. William A. Edmundson (1990). The "Race-of-the-Victim" Effect in Capital Sentencing: McClesky V. Kemp and Underadjustment Bias. Jurimetrics 32:125-41.
    This is a critical discussion of the Baldus study of capital sentencing in Georgia. It concludes that the Baldus finding of a "race-of-the-victim" effect is less robust than capital-punishment abolitionists have claimed. But the flaws in the Baldus study should not comfort death-penalty advocates, for they reveal an epistemological barrier to the US Supreme Court's ever being able to satisfy itself both that the sentence reflects particularized consideration of the circumstances and character of the defendant (mandated by Woodson v North (...)
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  39. William A. Edmundson (1984). Death Penalties: A Review of Raoul Berger, Death Penalties. [REVIEW] Duke Law Journal 1984:624-29.
    This is a critical review of Death Penalties by constitutional scholar Raoul Berger. It rebuts Berger's argument that the Eighth Amendment "no cruel and unusual punishments" clause validates capital punishment.
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