The Force of Law

Garrett Barden and Tim Murphy

in Law and Justice in Community

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199592685
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595653 | DOI:
The Force of Law

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This chapter sets out a theory of law and force or coercion. It distinguishes between direct and indirect force and discusses force, direct or indirect, exerted by another's action. It first examines the force of law in the specialized sense of legislation; then the force of the living or communal moral law; and, following that, the force of threat. The chapter discusses different possible reasons for obedience and distinguishes between autonomy and heteronomy. It considers the criterion of effectiveness as a measure of the severity of a threat. The function of the threat of undesired consequence following non-compliance is to make compliance more likely. Whether or not it is effective depends entirely on the person against whom it is directed. Finally, the chapter considers another criterion as a measure of the severity of a threat — that of taking into account the interest of the person subjected to a threat.

Keywords: law; force; coercion; direct force; indirect force; obedience; autonomy; heteronomy; criterion of effectiveness; compliance

Chapter.  6347 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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