The Standard Picture and Its Discontents

Mark Greenberg

in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606443
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729683 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law

The Standard Picture and Its Discontents

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This chapter argues that there is a picture of how law works that most legal theorists are implicitly committed to and take to be common ground. This Standard Picture (SP, for short) is generally not acknowledged or defended. SP leads to a characteristic set of concerns and problems and yields a distinctive way of thinking about how law is supposed to operate. The chapter suggests that the issue of whether SP is correct is a fundamental one for the philosophy of law, more basic, for example, than the issue that divides legal positivists and anti‐positivists. The chapter has three main goals: 1) to identify and articulate in some detail the Standard Picture; 2) to show that SP is widely held and has important consequences for other debates in the philosophy of law; 3) to show that SP leads to a serious theoretical problem.

Keywords: anti‐positivism; authoritative; bindingness hypothesis; command paradigm; dependence view; explanatory directness; legal norms; morality; moral profile; obligation; standard picture

Chapter.  29760 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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