Legal Theory 14 (2):135-166 (2008)

According to legal conventionalism, a legal system cannot come into existence and be sustained over time unless legal officials see themselves as working together with their fellow participants in the practice of law for the purpose of achieving coordination or alternatively realizing a joint endeavor. This thesis has traditionally been thought to support a positivist understanding of law. The paper challenges this piece of common wisdom. It aims to establish that the idea of cooperation among legal officials that figures so prominently in conventionalist accounts of law may in a suitable form be appropriated by a robust version of natural-law theory. It claims that participants in the practice of law may be understood as having reasons of political morality to heed the acts and decisions of their fellow participants and calibrate their own behavior accordingly. It takes the value of democracy to illustrate the point. Democracy furnishes a reason for courts to give effect to democratically reached decisions rather than work out on their own how best to adjudicate disputes before them
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DOI 10.1017/s1352325208080063
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