Raz on Gaps: The Surprising Part

In Lukas H. Meyer, Stanley L. Paulson & Thomas W. Pogge (eds.), Rights, Culture and the Law: Themes From the Legal and Political Philosophy of Joseph Raz. Oxford University Press (2003)
Authors
Timothy Endicott
Oxford University
Abstract
In English law, there are various ways in which contracts can be invalid or unenforceable because they are immoral — and yet English lawyers know that many contracts are conclusively binding. The first two sources of legal gaps that Joseph Raz identifies do not seem surprising. Vagueness in the sources of law leads to gaps in borderline cases, and there is a gap if the law includes inconsistent rules, with no way of deciding which is effective. In those situations it seems right to say that the law does not tell people where they stand, so that people may need a court to make a decision. But if Raz is right about the third source of gaps, then judges have discretion whenever the law appeals to moral considerations. This chapter discusses the sources thesis, moral considerations, judicial discretion, the social morality of judges, and contract law.
Keywords Joseph Raz  judicial discretion  contract law  sources thesis  social morality
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