Legal Theory 24 (2):135-157 (2018)

Laura Valentini
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
One of the distinctive features of the obligation to obey the law is its content-independence. We ought to do what the law commands because the law commands it, and not because of the law's content—i.e., the independent merits of the actions it prescribes. Despite its popularity, the notion of content-independence is marked by ambiguity. In this paper, I first clarify what content-independence is. I then develop a simple test—the “content-independence test”—which allows us to establish whether any candidate justification of the obligation to obey the law delivers genuine content-independence. I apply this test to prominent such justifications and conclude that several of them, surprisingly, fail it.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/s1352325218000095
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Are There Any Natural Rights?H. L. A. Hart - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (2):175-191.
Nations, States, and Territory.Anna Stilz - 2011 - Ethics 121 (3):572-601.
Legal Positivism: 5½ Myths.John Gardner - 2001 - American Journal of Jurisprudence 46 (1):199-227.
LEGAL POSITIVISM: 5 1/2 MYTHS.John Gardner - 2001 - American Journal of Jurisprudence 46 (1):199-227.

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Political Obligation.Richard Dagger - unknown - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The New Legal Anti-Positivism.Hasan Dindjer - 2020 - Legal Theory 26 (3):181-213.
Mala Prohibita and Proportionality.Youngjae Lee - 2021 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 15 (3):425-446.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

In Defense of Content-Independence.Nathan Adams - 2017 - Legal Theory 23 (3):143-167.
The Content-Independence of Political Obligations.Kevin Walton - 2014 - Political Theory 42 (2):218-222.
Content-Independence and Natural-Duty Theories of Political Obligation.Jiafeng Zhu - 2018 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 44 (1):61-80.
Are Political Obligations Content Independent?George Klosko - 2011 - Political Theory 39 (4):498-523.
What is Political About Political Obligation? A Neglected Lesson From Consent Theory.Dorota Mokrosińska - 2013 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (1):88-108.
Associative Political Obligations.Bas van der Vossen - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (7):477-487.
Morality and Political Obligation. Y. Satyanarayana - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 3:103-110.


Added to PP index

Total views
105 ( #105,974 of 2,463,129 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
21 ( #38,493 of 2,463,129 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes