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Philosophy of law is a branch of "philosophy and "jurisprudence that seeks to answer basic questions about "law and "legal systems, such as "What is law?", "What are the criteria for legal "validity?", "What is the relationship between law and "morality?", and many other similar questions.

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Analytic jurisprudence[edit]

"The principal objective of "analytical jurisprudence has traditionally been to provide an account of what distinguishes law as a system of norms from other systems of norms, such as ethical norms."[1] The question that has received the most attention from philosophers of law is What is law? Several schools of thought have provided rival answers to this question, the most influential of which are:

In recent years, debates about the nature of law have become increasingly fine-grained. One important debate is within legal positivism. One school is sometimes called "exclusive legal positivism", and it is associated with the view that the legal validity of a norm can never depend on its moral correctness. A second school is labeled "inclusive legal positivism", and it is associated with the view that moral considerations may determine the legal validity of a norm, but that it is not necessary that this is the case. Some philosophers used to contend that positivism was the theory that there is "no necessary connection" between law and morality; but influential contemporary positivists, including Joseph Raz, John Gardner, and Leslie Green, reject that view. As Raz points out, it is a necessary truth that there are vices that a legal system cannot possibly have (for example, it cannot commit rape or murder). In fact, it is even unclear whether Hart himself held this view in its broad form, for he insisted both that to be a legal system rules must have a certain minimum content, which content overlaps with moral concerns, and that it must attain at least some degree of justice in the administration of laws.

A second important debate in recent years concerns "interpretivism, a view that is associated mainly with "Ronald Dworkin. An interpretivist theory of law holds that legal rights and duties are determined by the best interpretation of the political practices of a particular community. Interpretation, according to Dworkin's "law as integrity theory, has two dimensions. To count as an interpretation, the reading of a text must meet the criterion of fit. But of those interpretations that fit, Dworkin maintains that the correct interpretation is the one that puts the political practices of the community in their best light, or makes of them the best that they can be. But many writers have doubted whether there is a single best justification for the complex practices of any given community, and others have doubted whether, even if there are, they should be counted as part of the law of that community.

Normative jurisprudence[edit]

In addition to analytic jurisprudence, legal philosophy is also concerned with normative theories of law. "Normative jurisprudence involves normative, evaluative, and otherwise prescriptive questions about the law."[2] For example, What is the goal or purpose of law? What moral or political theories provide a foundation for the law? Three approaches have been influential in contemporary moral and political philosophy, and these approaches are reflected in normative theories of law:

There are many other normative approaches to the philosophy of law, including "critical legal studies and "libertarian theories of law.

Philosophical approaches to legal problems[edit]

Philosophers of law are also concerned with a variety of philosophical problems that arise in particular legal subjects, such as "constitutional law, "Contract law, "Criminal law, and "Tort law. Thus, philosophy of law addresses such diverse topics as "theories of contract law, theories of criminal punishment, theories of tort liability, and the question of whether judicial review is justified.

Notable philosophers of law[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Philosophy of Law". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 
  2. ^ "Philosophy of Law". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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