When <i>Should</i> We Do What Law Signals?

Laurence Claus

in Law’s Evolution and Human Understanding

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199735099
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950478 | DOI:
When Should We Do What Law Signals?

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This chapter explores how people actually use law when deciding what to do, why people often say that law preempts their own moral reasoning, and how peopleshould use law when deciding what to do. The good of having a legal system that helps us understand each other and live together is a moral reason to help maintain the system by ourselves doing what law predicts we will do. That reason is not about what we owe lawgivers; it is about what we owe ourselves and each other as people living in community. The good of having a legal system does not preempt our own all-things-considered moral reasoning, it is just one thing that we should consider when deciding what to do. How much weight the good of having a legal system morally deserves in our thinking will vary, depending on what we are thinking of doing and how much good the system is doing us. We will often also have other good reasons for doing what law's words predict we will do, but those other reasons do not distinctively come from the fact that the words are law, and information that helps reveal those other reasons may be forthcoming from sources other than law.

Keywords: informative; non-preemptive; expectations; independent moral judgment

Chapter.  13464 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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