In this major new work, Matthew Kramer seeks to establish two main conclusions. On the one hand, moral requirements are strongly objective. On the other hand, the objectivity of ethics is itself an ethical matter that rests primarily on ethical considerations. Moral realism - the doctrine that morality is indeed objective - is a moral doctrine. Major new volume in our new series _New Directions in Ethics_ Takes on the big picture - defending the objectivity of ethics whilst rejecting the (...) grounds of much of the existing debate between realists and anti-realists Cuts across both ethical theory and metaethics Distinguished by the quality of the scholarship and its ambitious range. (shrink)
This collection of essays forms a lively debate over the fundamental characteristics of legal and moral rights. The essays examine whether rights fundamentally protect individuals' interests or whether they instead fundamentally enable individuals to make choices.
This paper seeks to clarify and defend the proposition that moral realism is best elaborated as a moral doctrine. I begin by upholding Ronald Dworkin’s anti-Archimedean critique of the error theory against some strictures by Michael Smith, and I then briefly suggest how a proponent of moral realism as a moral doctrine would respond to Smith’s defense of the Archimedeanism of expressivism. Thereafter, this paper moves to its chief endeavor. By differentiating clearly between expressivism and quasi-realism, the paper highlights both (...) their distinctness and their compatibility. In so doing, it underscores the affinities between Blackburnian quasi-realism and moral realism as a moral doctrine. Finally, this paper contends—in line with my earlier work on these matters—that moral realism as a moral doctrine points to the need for some reorienting of meta-ethical enquiries rather than for the abandoning of them. (shrink)
The authors of this book engage in essay form in a lively debate over the fundamental characteristics of legal and moral rights. They examine whether rights fundamentally protect individuals' interests or whether they instead fundamentally enable individuals to make choices. In the course of this debate the authors address many questions through which they clarify, though not finally resolve, a number of controversial present-day political debates, including those over abortion, euthanasia, and animal rights.
This book is an uncompromising defense of legal positivism that insists on the separability of law and morality. After distinguishing among three facets of morality, Kramer explores a variety of ways in which law has been perceived as integrally connected to each of those facets. The book concludes with a detailed discussion of the obligation to obey the law--a discussion that highlights the strengths of legal positivism in the domain of political philosophy as much as in the domain of jurisprudence.
What is objectivity? What is the rule of law? Are the operations of legal systems objective? If so, in what ways and to what degrees are they objective? Does anything of importance depend on the objectivity of law? These are some of the principal questions addressed by Matthew H. Kramer in this lucid and wide-ranging study that introduces readers to vital areas of philosophical enquiry. As Kramer shows, objectivity and the rule of law are complicated phenomena, each comprising a number (...) of distinct though overlapping dimensions. Although the connections between objectivity and the rule of law are intimate, they are also densely multi-faceted. (shrink)
Taking a fresh look at a central controversy in criminal law theory, The Ethics of Capital Punishment presents a rationale for the death penalty grounded in a theory of the nature of evil and the nature of defilement. Original, unsettling, and deeply controversial, it will be an essential reference point for future debates on the subject.
How are law and morality connected, how do they interact, and in what ways are they distinct? In Part I of this book, Matthew Kramer argues that moral principles can enter into the law of any jurisdiction. He contends that legal officials can invoke moral principles as laws for resolving disputes, and that they can also invoke them as threshold tests which ordinary laws must satisfy. In opposition to many other theorists, Kramer argues that these functions of moral principles are (...) consistent with all the essential characteristics of any legal system. Part II reaffirms the legal positivist argument that law and morality are separable, arguing against the position of natural-law theory, which portrays legal requirements as a species of moral requirements. Kramer contends that even though the existence of a legal system in any sizeable society is essential for the realization of fundamental moral values, law is not inherently moral either in its effects or in its motivational underpinnings. In the final part, Kramer contests the widespread view that people whose conduct is meticulously careful cannot be held morally responsible for harmful effects of their actions. Through this argument, he reveals that fault-independent liability is present even more prominently in morality than in the law. Through a variety of arguments, Where Law and Morality Meet highlights both some surprising affinities and some striking divergences between morality and law. (shrink)
The morality of interrogational torture has been the subject of heated debate in recent years. In explaining why torture is morally wrong, Kramer engages in deep philosophical reflections on the nature of morality and on moral conflicts.
Some important recent articles, including one in this journal, have sought to devise theories of rights that can transcend the longstanding debate between the Interest Theory and the Will Theory. The present essay argues that those efforts fail and that the Interest Theory and the Will Theory withstand the criticisms that have been levelled against them. To be sure, the criticisms have been valuable in that they have prompted the amplification and clarification of the two dominant theories of rights; but (...) their upshot has been to reveal the need for the improvement, rather than the abandonment, of those theories. (shrink)
As is well known to everyone familiar with the analytical table of legal relationships propounded by the American jurist Wesley Hohfeld, one of the eight positions in the table is that of the no-right. In most discussions of Hohfeld’s overall framework, no-rights have received rather little attention. Doubtless, one reason for the relative dearth of scrutiny is that Hohfeld devised a hyphenated neologism to designate no-rights. Each of the other positions in the Hohfeldian table is designated by a term with (...) a solid grounding in everyday discourse and juristic discourse, whereas the hyphenated term “no-right”—in contrast with the unhyphenated phrase “no right”—does not have any comparable grounding either in ordinary discourse or in juristic discourse. That neologism is almost never employed by anyone outside the confines of discussions of Hohfeld’s categories, and it is often not employed even within those confines. Notwithstanding the enormous amount of philosophical and juristic attention bestowed on Hohfeld’s analytical framework since its elaboration in the second decade of the twentieth century, the term “no-right” has found little favor in philosophical or juristic circles. Moreover, on the rather rare occasions when the term is used rather than merely mentioned, it is almost always misused. The exploration of the correct use of that term in the first half of this paper may seem rather fussy, but the importance of that exploration for a satisfactory understanding of legal and moral relationships will become apparent in the second half of the paper. While endeavoring to vindicate the term “no-right” as a fully apposite element in the vocabulary of legal philosophy, this paper will also be replying to a recent article by Heidi Hurd and Michael Moore in this journal. (shrink)
Throughout the English-speaking world, and in the many other countries where analytic philosophy is studied, Hillel Steiner is esteemed as one of the foremost contemporary political philosophers. This volume is designed as a festschrift for Steiner and as an important collection of philosophical essays in its own right. The editors have assembled a roster of highly distinguished international contributors, all of whom are eager to pay tribute to Steiner by focusing on topics on which he himself has concentrated. Some of (...) the contributors engage directly with Steiner's work, whereas others focus not directly on his writings but instead grapple with issues that have figured prominently therein. Each essay seeks to advance the debates in which Steiner himself has so notably participated. The study concludes with a response by Steiner himself. (shrink)
This essay argues against the commonly held view that "ought" implies "can" in the domain of morality. More specifically, I contest the notion that nobody should ever be held morally responsible for failing to avoid the infliction of any harm that he or she has not been able to avoid through all reasonably feasible precautions in the carrying out of some worthwhile activity. The article explicates the concept of a moral right in order to show why violations of moral rights (...) can occur even when no one has acted wrongfully in any fashion. In so doing, it will effectively be maintaining that strict liability (i.e., liability irrespective of the presence or absence of culpability) exists in morality as well as in law. When we take account of the distinction between exoneration and extenuation, we can see that scrupulously thorough precautions are never sufficient to constitute an excuse in morality. Having made that point with some extended examples, the article goes on to consider a number of possible objections - objections that lead into discussions of some basic distinctions within moral philosophy and some central principles within deontic logic. (shrink)
In Legality Scott Shapiro seeks to provide the motivation for the development of his own elaborate account of law by undertaking a critique of H.L.A. Hart's jurisprudential theory. Hart maintained that every legal system is underlain by a rule of recognition through which officials of the system identify the norms that belong to the system as laws. Shapiro argues that Hart's remarks on the rule of recognition are confused and that his model of lawis consequently untenable. Shapiro contends that a (...) new approach is vital for progress in the philosophy of law and, with his lengthy presentation of his own Planning Theory of Law, he aspires to pioneer just such an approach. Except for a very terse observation in the final main section, this article does not directly assess the strengths and shortcomings of Shapiro's piquant planning theory. Instead, I defend Hart against Shapiro's charges and thereby undermine the motivation for the development of the planning theory. (shrink)
This article defends my 2011 book “The Ethics of Capital Punishment” against the thoughtful critiques written by Carol Steiker and John Danaher respectively. It does not attempt to respond to every point of contention in the two critiques, but concentrates instead on a few of the main points from each of them.
In this wide-ranging investigation of leading issues in contemporary legal and political philosophy, distinguished philosophers and legal theorists tackle issues such as the rights of animals, the role of public-policy considerations in legal reasoning, the appropriateness of compensation as a means of rectifying mishaps and misdeeds, the extent of individuals' responsibility for the consequences of their choices, and the culpability of failed attempts to commit crimes.
Edited by leading contributors to the literature, Freedom: An Anthology is the most complete anthology on social, political and economic freedom ever compiled. Offers a broad guide to the vast literature on social, political and economic freedom. Contains selections from the best scholarship of recent decades as well as classic writings from Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant among others. General and sectional introductions help to orient the reader. Compiled and edited by three important contributors to the field.
This article delineates some of the main issues that are debated by philosophers of law. It explores the connections between legal philosophy and other areas of philosophy, while also seeking to specify the distinctiveness of many of the concerns that have preoccupied philosophers of law. It illustrates its abstract points with examples focused on the separability of law and morality, the nature of the rule of law, the nature of rights, justifications for the imposition of punishment, and the identification of (...) basic legal entitlements. (shrink)
In my recent book Liberalism with Excellence, I have expounded at length a conception of warranted self-respect. That conception, which draws heavily though far from uncritically on the scattered passages about self-respect in the writings of John Rawls, is central to my defense of a variety of liberalism that combines and transfigures certain aspects of Rawlsianism and perfectionism. However, it is also central to the positions taken in some earlier books of mine on capital punishment and torture. Although my understanding (...) of warranted self-respect was presented far more briefly or obliquely in each of those earlier books than in Liberalism with Excellence, it in fact underlies both my limited defense of the death penalty and my absolutist insistence that the use of interrogational torture is never morally permissible. The present paper will recount the gist of my conception of warranted self-respect and will then explain how that conception figures pivotally in my ruminations on the diverse matters of political morality that have been mentioned here. (shrink)
If there is one doctrine distinctively associated with legal positivism, it is the separability of law and morality. Both in opposition to classical natural-law thinkers and in response to more recent theorists such as Ronald Dworkin and Lon Fuller, positivists have endeavored to impugn any number of ostensibly necessary connections between the legal domain and the moral domain. Such is the prevailing view of legal positivism among people familiar with jurisprudence. During the past couple of decades, however, that prevailing view (...) has come into question among some estimable legal positivists. In particular, Joseph Raz and his followers have queried the importance and the very tenability of an insistence on the separability of law and morality. The present article maintains that the traditional view of legal positivism is correct and that the recent skepticism about it on the part of some positivists is unfounded. When the notion of the disjoinability of law and morality is understood properly as a large array of theses, it proves to be resistant to the challenges that have been mounted against it. (shrink)
Ronald Dworkin has long criticized legal positivists for their efforts to distinguish between legal and non-legal standards of conduct that are incumbent on people. Recently, Dworkin has broached this criticism in his hostile account of the debates between Incorporationist Legal Positivists and Exclusive Legal Positivists. Specifically, he has maintained that Incorporationists cannot avoid the unpalatable conclusion that the axioms and theorems of arithmetic are legal norms. This article shows why such a conclusion is indeed avoidable and why Dworkin's criticism is (...) therefore wide of the mark. (shrink)
Two recent high-quality articles, including one in this journal, have challenged the Inclusivist and Incorporationist varieties of legal positivism. David Lefkowitz and Michael Giudice, writing from perspectives heavily influenced by the work of Joseph Raz, have endeavored—in sophisticated and interestingly distinct ways—to vindicate Raz's contention that moral principles are never among the law-validating criteria in any legal system nor among the laws that are applied as binding bases for adjudicative and administrative decisions in such a system. The present article responds (...) to their defenses of Raz's Exclusive Legal Positivism. (shrink)
In recent times, especially in the pages of this journal, the debate between the proponents of the two principal species of legal positivism has gained new vigor. Specifically, some champions of Exclusive Legal Positivism have sophisticatedly challenged the Inclusive Legal Positivists’ claim that moral principles can figure among the criteria by which the officials of a legal system ascertain the law. The present essay attempts to parry the most formidable of those recent challenges. 1.
This book expounds an analytical method that focuses on paradoxes - a method originally associated with deconstructive philosophy, but bearing little resemblance to the interpretive techniques that have come to be designated as 'deconstruction' in literary studies. The book then applies its paradox-focused method as it undertakes a sustained investigation of Thomas Hobbe's political philosophy. Hobbes's theory of the advent and purpose of government turns out to reveal the impossibility of the very developments which it portrays as indispensable.
John Locke's labor theory of property is one of the seminal ideas of political philosophy and served to establish its author's reputation as one of the leading social and political thinkers of all time. Through it Locke addressed many of his most pressing concerns, and earned a reputation as an outstanding spokesman for political individualism - a reputation that lingers widely despite some partial challenges that have been raised in recent years. In this major new study Matthew Kramer offers an (...) extensive critique of the labor theory and investigates the consequences of its downfall. With incisive analyses of the merits and failings of many aspects of Locke's political thought, Kramer advances a powerful challenge to Locke's image as an individualist. Employing a rigorously philosophical methodology, but remaining aware of the insights generated by historical approaches to Locke, Kramer concludes that Locke's political vision was in fact profoundly communitarian. (shrink)
This essay maintains that the question in its title is really three sets of questions: a conceptual inquiry, a moral/political inquiry, and an empirical inquiry. After devoting some attention to the relevant conceptual issues, the essay ponders in detail the moral/political issues. It suggests some answers to the germane moral/political questions, and it takes pains to distinguish those questions from other lines of inquiry with which they might be confused. Although only animals and dead people are mentioned in the title, (...) the essay also considers whether infants, comatose people, lunatics, future generations, groups, trees, and natural phenomena such as rivers should be classified as potential holders of legal rights. (shrink)
The biological theories of dreaming provide no explanation for the transduction from neuronal discharge to dreaming or waking consciousness. They cannot account for the variability in dream content between individuals or within individuals. Mind-brain isomorphism is poorly supported, as is dreaming's link to REM sleep. Biological theories of dreaming do not provide a function for dreaming nor a meaning for dreams. Evolutionary views of dreaming do not relate dream content to the current concerns of the dreamer and using the nightmare (...) as the paradigm dream minimizes the impact of poor sleep on adaptations. [Hobson et al.; Nielsen; Revonsuo; Solms]. (shrink)
Today’s panel is about the expanding boundary of population health policy, what that expanding boundary has to do with law, and what kinds of challenges and opportunities come out of it. What I want to do for the next few minutes is talk to you about the notion of population health as it exists where law and policy are made, rather than where it exists in a spectacular international theoretical literature. Then I want to introduce our panelists. In the process, (...) I will explain why the Honorable John Nilson, is not with us, which tells you a great deal about not only the real world of the politics of population health, but also about the kind of trouble you can get into if you are a first class lawyer involved in population health. (shrink)
Lon Fuller is best known among legal philosophers for his efforts to highlight the intrinsically moral nature of law. To show that his efforts come to nought, the present essay ponders not only the ideas advanced by Fuller himself, but also some of the defences of him that have been mounted in recent years. Those defences centre on his notion of reciprocity, according to which the officials in a genuine legal system have effectively undertaken to respect die confines of the (...) mandates which they ask citizens (including themselves) to obey. Building on that notion, the supporters of Fuller have affirmed that the basic characteristics of law are intrinsically promotive of values such as autonomy and due process. As the present essay seeks to demonstrate, their sophisticated lines of argument turn out to be unavailing. (shrink)