Chapter

The Empty Idea of Authority

Laurence Claus

in Law’s Evolution and Human Understanding

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199735099
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950478 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199735099.003.0004
The Empty Idea of Authority

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A legal system's rule of recognition is effective because it is treated by people as accurately signaling what other people in their community are likely to do and to expect. As that is true for the core “law” that we may call the rule of recognition, it must be true for all the laws of the system. As there is no right to be obeyed at the legal system’s core, the idea of right to be obeyed is completely irrelevant to the nature of law. The idea of authority depends on a creation-delegation basis for being. Law's basis for being is altogether different. Law evolves into being in tandem with the human community to which it belongs and its basis is the basis of community—a shared understanding of what those in community are likely to do and to expect.

Keywords: infinite regress; interpretation and understanding; creation-delegation and evolution; rule of recognition; Grundnorm

Chapter.  2354 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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