Kimberley Brownlee

in Conscience and Conviction

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199592944
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746109 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Legal Philosophy


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This chapter argues that the moral responsibilities that underpin formal offices have overriding moral importance, so that when these responsibilities diverge non-trivially from the formal expectations of those offices, it is morally obligatory ceteris paribus to adhere to our moral responsibilities. The significance of this normative argument is illustrated by the fact that, even in a reasonably good society, there is an ineliminable gap between the codifiable dictates of formal offices and the broadly uncodifiable moral roles that underpin them. The chapter concludes with responses to some likely objections that pertain to decision-making competence, democratic processes, burdens of judgement, voluntarism, valuable institutions, and value pluralism.

Keywords: gap thesis; moral roles thesis; minimum moral burdens principle; discretion; moral roles; value pluralism

Chapter.  14130 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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