Purposes, Public Acts, and Personification

John Finnis

in Intention and Identity

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580064
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729386 | DOI:
Purposes, Public Acts, and Personification

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Hart's inaugural lecture removed personification — corporate personality — from legal theory's agenda until Dworkin's Law's Empire, making reference to Thomas Nagel's discussion of public life, asserted the need for a deep personification of the state. But neither writer explained why, when we ascribe official responsibilities etc. to officials, we do so via ascribing responsibilities etc. to the group of which they are officials. This chapter critically analyses Nagel's normative theory of public responsibilities, and proceeds via an examination of the structure of nuclear deterrence to consider why any judgment about the morality of an individual's participation in that system must first judge the morality of the social act of establishing and maintaining the system and of, if occasion arises, deploying it. The key is understanding why, and to what extent, bluff is impossible in systems of this kind.

Keywords: Hart; Dworkin; Nagel; group acts; official acts; personification; corporate personality; nuclear deterrence; group bluffing

Chapter.  4851 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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