Legal Theory and the Image of Legality

Roger Cotterrell

in Law's Community

Published in print February 1997 | ISBN: 9780198264903
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682858 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Socio-Legal Studies

Legal Theory and the Image of Legality

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  • Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law


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What kind of legal theory is needed to take account of changes in the nature of regulation discussed in the previous chapter? It must be theory focusing on the complexity, diversity, and indefinite boundaries of contemporary legal regulation, and on the variety of its sites and settings. It must recognise legal doctrine and practices as instruments of coercive power but also, potentially, as frameworks and expressions of integrated communities. Contemporary legality is a matter of fragmented regulation, diverse regulatory regimes and jurisdictions, piece-meal legal rationality, and policy-driven law. In such conditions, moral foundations for law are not impossible to find but the moral milieux in which legal principles can be rooted will be relatively local and specific. The resources of both legal philosophy and sociology of law are necessary in conceptualising a morally meaningful legality.

Keywords: legal theory; legality; regulation; legal doctrine; coercive power; rationality; sociology; legal philosophy

Chapter.  8272 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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