Something can be said to be good for a particular person, whether or not it is good for anyone else, let alone good ‘overall’ or ‘good simpliciter ’. Sometimes we speak of ‘John's good’ as well as of things that are ‘good for John’. What is ‘good for John’ is whatever enhances his ‘good’ or, to use an apparently synonymous term, his ‘well-being’. But what is a person's well-being: in what does it consist?
In "Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics", David Brink defendsexternalist moral realism against Mackie's sceptical arguments, whichpresuppose some kind of internalism. But Brink confuses the issues by failing to distinguish different kinds of internalism. What he calls conceptual internalism may be false, but Mackie can retreat to sociological internalism, which holds that most people believe moral requirements to be capable of motivating action regardless of pre-existing desires. Brink does not challenge that thesis, which isall that Mackie's sceptical arguments necessarily (...) presuppose. (shrink)
Constitutional interpretation is problematic because it can be difficult to distinguish legitimate interpretation from illegitimate change. The distinction depends largely on what a constitution is. A constitution, like any other law, necessarily has a meaning, which pre-exists judicial interpretation: it is not a set of meaningless marks on paper. Any plausible constitutional theory must offer an account of the nature of that meaning. In doing so, it must address two main questions. The first is whether the meaning of the constitution (...) is given solely by its words, or also by additional evidence of underlying intentions, purposes or values. The second question is whether, in either case, its meaning is determined by the original meanings, intentions, purposes or values of the founding generation, or by contemporary meanings, intentions, purposes or values. This question divides so-called 'originalists' from 'non-originalists'. This article discusses all these alternatives, and the main arguments for and against them. It is subtitled 'Originalism' because it defends a moderate version of that position; however, it is argued that this is equivalent to a moderate version of non-originalism. (shrink)
In British constitutional law, the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty maintains that Parliament has unlimited legislative authority. Critics have recently challenged this doctrine, on historical and philosophical grounds. This book describes its historical origins and development.
This review article examines Richard Ekins’ attempt to defend the concept of legislative intention from influential criticism, and to demonstrate its indispensable and central role in statutory interpretation. He rejects accounts of legislative intention in terms of the aggregation of the intentions of individual legislators, and instead, draws on recent philosophical work on the nature of group agency to propose a unitary model, in which the relevant intention is that of the legislature itself, although it is supported by the ‘interlocking’ (...) of the intentions of all its members. The legislature has two relevant intentions: a secondary or standing intention to operate by way of agreed procedures to develop and enact particular proposals for legislation to enhance the welfare of the community; and primary intentions that consist of the content of those proposals once the legislature has enacted them. Ekins restricts the evidence that is relevant and admissible in order to determine the content of such proposals; because they must be ‘open’ to all legislators, and transparent to the community, the evidence must be publicly available. This article summarizes the main theses of the book, and subjects them to critical examination. It concludes that the book adds considerable depth, rigour and theoretical insight to our understanding of these issues. But it also suggests that his argument is vulnerable to criticism at a few points, at least one of which is crucial. The argument needs a better account of what it is that constitutes the content of particular proposals when they are put to the legislature for enactment. (shrink)
The doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty has long been regarded as the most fundamental element of the British Constitution. It holds that Parliament has unlimited legislative authority, and that the courts have no authority to judge statutes invalid. This doctrine has now been criticized on historical and philosophical grounds and critics claim that it is a relatively recent invention of academic lawyers that superseded an earlier tradition in which Parliament's authority was limited to common law. The critics also argue that it (...) is based on a misunderstanding of the relationship between statutory and common law, and is morally indefensible. The Sovereignty of Parliament: History and Philosophy responds to these criticisms. It first defines and clarifies the concept of legislative sovereignty and then describes the historical origins and the development of the doctrine from the thirteenth to the end of the nineteenth century. Professor Goldsworthy goes on to identify many different reasons why persuaded statesmen, lawyers, and political theorists have endorsed the doctrine. He discusses the ideas of a large number of legal and political thinkers, including Fortescue, St German, Hooker, Coke, Bacon, Parker, Milton, Hobbes, Hale, Locke, Bolingbroke, Blackstone, and Burke. He shows that judges in Great Britain have never had authority to invalidate statutes, and that the doctrine is much older than is generally realized. The book concludes by dealing with philosophical criticisms of the doctrine. Combining the insights of earlier thinkers with those of contemporary legal philosophers, it demonstrates that these criticisms are based on a defective understanding of the nature and foundations of law, and of the relationship between legislative authority and the common law. It argues that the doctrine is morally defensible, and refutes the thesis that the judges have authority to modify or reject it. (shrink)
In his recent book Interpretation and Legal Theory , Andrei Marmor makes a number of claims about meaning and interpretation, both in general and in law, which I will argue are mistaken. Actually, there is some confusion in his book between what I take to be his “official” view of the nature of meaning and interpretation, and a very different view which keeps surfacing despite his official rejection of it. I will argue that this alternative, rejected view, when properly developed, (...) is more plausible than his official view, and that the difference between them is of considerable practical consequence for legal interpretation. What is at stake is the role of legislative intention. The alternative view denies Marmor's claim that the meaning of a statute is conceptually independent of the intention or purpose which the legislature had in enacting it. It should be said at the outset that I will focus on just three of the eight chapters in Marmor's book, which contains many virtues that are untouched by my critique. (shrink)
The lesson is that while externalists avoid devastating objections to internalist moral realism, they thereby sacrifice most of thepractical significance of moral realism as an alternative to noncognitivism. They defend the objectivity of moral beliefs, but are forced to concede that the practical relevance and appeal of those beliefs depends on subjective desires. It is because they correctly reject internalism that they succumb to the non-cognitivists'tu quoque.
This collection of essays by a group of leading legal philosophers from the US, the USA and Australasia centres of the juridification of politics through enhancing the entrenched power of judges. The issues are examined in the context of a critique of the revival of legal positivism as a prescriptive political philosophy closely tied to the tradition of parliamentary democracy. The papers originated in an extended workshop held at the Australian National University in 1998 on 'Judicial Activism and Judicial Review (...) in Australian Democracy'. Some of the essays focus on the recent Australian developments with respect to implied constitutional rights and others concentrate on Tom Campbell's legal theory of 'ethical positivism'. The book as a whole presents powerful and conflicting arguments bearing on the global debate about the changing role of judges. (shrink)
What should and what should not to be counted as a human right? What does it mean to identify a right as a human right? And what are the most effective and legitimate means of promoting human rights? This book addresses these questions and the complex relationship between the answers to them.