The Priority of Persons

John Finnis

in Intention and Identity

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580064
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729386 | DOI:
The Priority of Persons

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This chapter gives general accounts of law's need to reintroduce the rather forgotten topic of what it is to be a person, why it matters that we thus are all each other's equal in that fundamental respect, and how being a person is related to meaning and intending. Roman law's concern with persons and equality is recalled, and Dworkin's replacement of ‘person’ with ‘citizen’ in many contexts is noted. Rules, especially of law, are to be understood as relationships between persons in the past (as rule-makers), the present (as rule-subjects and interpreters), and the future as participants in the common good for the sake of which law is made and maintained. Kelsen's turning aside from the reality of persons is shown to have bad effects in adjudication, analogous to the failure of interpretative method in Dred Scott v Sandford (1857). Hart's analysis of corporations, recent judicial explanations of the meaning of parties to transactions and makers of documents, the reality of soul or spirit, and the metaphysics of discourse are all considered.

Keywords: Roman law; Dworkin; Hart; Kelsen; Dred Scott; corporate personality; legal instruments; metaphysics of discourse; reality of legal rules

Chapter.  8188 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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