The Authority and Legitimacy 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 Authority and Legitimacy of Law

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This chapter distinguishes between two distinct modalities of authority. First, a ruler is said to be in ‘authority’ over his subject in that the ruler is entitled to command his subject who, reciprocally, is obliged or obligated to obey. Secondly, a person is said to be an ‘authority’ in as much as he is expert in a domain and worthy of belief, although not infallible. The source of authority of this kind is expertise, truthfulness or, in moral affairs, wisdom. The chapter discusses the relationship between these different types of authority in the legal domain and suggests that there are fundamental pre-requisites of authoritative adjudication and legislation in addition to those relating to a judge's or legislator's formal entitlement to adjudicate or legislate. It also discusses the essentially contestable and ambiguous nature of the ‘legitimacy’ of the sovereign or other holder of authority.

Keywords: authority of law; meaning of authority; modalities of authority; authority as entitlement; moral wisdom; pre-requisites of authority; meaning of legitimacy; legitimacy of law

Chapter.  16947 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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