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Legal Objectivity and the Illusion of Legal Principles


Larry Alexander


University of San Diego School of Law

August 18, 2008

RIGHTS, LAW AND MORALITY: THEMES FROM THE LEGAL PHILOSOPHY OF ROBERT ALEXY, M. Klatt, ed., Oxford University Press, 2009
San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 08-069

Abstract:     
In this essay I approach the topic of legal objectivity by analyzing law's possible relationships with morality, rules, standards, and principles. I argue that law's function is to settle moral controversies, which renders problematic law's incorporation of morality and points to the moral desirability of determinate rules, even though such rules will conflict with morality. I argue that legal rules can be objective. On the other hand, I deny that there are any norms that can play the role that so-called "legal principles" are said to play, whether in Dworkin's account of them or in Alexy's.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

Keywords: objectivity, rules, standards, principles, morality, settlement

JEL Classification: K00, K10

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Date posted: August 27, 2008 ; Last revised: September 10, 2011

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Larry, Legal Objectivity and the Illusion of Legal Principles (August 18, 2008). RIGHTS, LAW AND MORALITY: THEMES FROM THE LEGAL PHILOSOPHY OF ROBERT ALEXY, M. Klatt, ed., Oxford University Press, 2009; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 08-069. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1236222

Contact Information

Lawrence Alexander (Contact Author)
University of San Diego School of Law ( email )
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-2317 (Phone)
619-260-4728 (Fax)
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