Chapter

Law, Universality, and Social Identity

John Finnis

in Intention and Identity

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580064
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729386 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580064.003.0007
Law, Universality, and Social Identity

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How should we understand Aquinas's thesis that laws are universal propositions of practical reason? And should we accept the popular modern claim that to prefer one set of forms of human character, relationship, and conduct to certain others, and consequently to restrict the conduct of persons with those other preferences, is wrongfully to deny those persons' equality of entitlement to concern and respect, and/or to insult them? Answering the first question involves showing how legal norms transcend the intentions of their makers, draw upon considerations of ‘natural reason’, and depend for their subsisting on the subsisting of the community whose norms they are. The conditions for the community's subsisting turn out to depend, in turn, on aspects of the public good the upholding of which is an intention which absolves those who act upon it from Dworkin's charges that they are flouting equality of respect and Raz's charges that they are insulting those whose conduct those actions bear upon. Multiculturalism will often be a menace to public good, justice, and peace.

Keywords: Aquinas; Dworkin; Raz; multiculturalism; legal norms; equality of concern and respect; insult; community

Chapter.  10368 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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