Just Votes for Unjust Laws

John Finnis

in Philosophy of Law

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580088
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729409 | DOI:
Just Votes for Unjust Laws

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This chapter's legal-philosophical significance lies in its close attention to the way in which the form and text of enactments must be distinguished from the enactments' legal meaning and juridical effect, that is, from the propositions of law which those enactments, properly interpreted, make legally valid and/or true. Given this distinction, it is possible and necessary to conclude that in some contexts a statute declaring or textually implying that some instances of a kind of serious injustice (of a sort that certainly ought to be prohibited by law) is legally permitted (but other instances are prohibited) is nonetheless not a statute that permits injustice. The crucial question whether the statute reduces the state's protection of persons from the relevant injustice cannot be answered by looking at the text of the statute. The injustice considered is abortion, but alternatives may be substituted for the sake of the argument, e.g., torture. Similarly, the central line of argument can be detached from its context here (the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (1995)).

Keywords: enactments; legal meaning; juridical effect; propositions of law; permitting injustice; abortion; state protection; Evangelium Vitae

Chapter.  16191 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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