Authority, Law, and Morality


in Ethics in the Public Domain

Published in print August 1995 | ISBN: 9780198260691
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682148 | DOI:
Authority, Law, and Morality

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Three theses with clear implications concerning the relation between law and morality have been defended in recent years: the sources thesis, the incorporation thesis, and the coherence thesis. This chapter defends the sources thesis against some common misunderstandings, and provides a reason for preferring it to the other two. The argument turns on the nature of authority, which is the subject of the first section. The second section shows the relevance of some of the implications of the analysis to the understanding of the law. Their relation with the three theses is then examined in the next three sections that follow. The last section concludes with some observations concerning the relations between legal theory, law, and morality.

Keywords: sources thesis; coherence thesis; incorporation thesis; legal theory; authority; morality

Chapter.  14531 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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