The Invention of “Because I Said So”

Laurence Claus

in Law’s Evolution and Human Understanding

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199735099
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950478 | DOI:
The Invention of “Because I Said So”

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Authority, a “because I said so” moral right to be obeyed, was a transitional argument that helped us move from experiences of highly personalized leadership in small groups to what we often have now—stable and intricate systems of law and government that shape our lives across space and time far more than the say-so of any one person could ever do. Once our law and government have evolved their own supports, by involving many people and achieving predictable changeovers of personnel through principles distanced from the self-interest of incumbents, we can frankly say that our communities have outgrown the idea of authority. Attempts since the Enlightenment to give the idea of authority new theoretical supports have all been conceptual failures. They have also been superfluous to a truthful account of law's moral significance. Once we see that lawgiving is essentially predictive, we can see why attempts to issue rules are not necessarily either “redundant or unjustified.”

Keywords: authority; divine right; property right; social contract; expertise; John Locke; David Hume; Joseph Raz; lawgivers' perspective

Chapter.  4259 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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