The Moral Dilemma of Positivism
Northwestern University - School of Law
January 17, 2011
Valparaiso University Law Review, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 43-53, 1985-1986
Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 11-01
I think there has been an advance in positivist thinking, and that advance consists of the recognition by MacCormick, a positivist, that positivism needs to be justified morally (and not just as an apparent scientific and objective fact about legal systems). But the justification that is required cannot consist in labeling "sovereignty of conscience" as a moral principle, nor in compounding the confusion by claiming that positivism minimally and hence necessarily promotes sovereignty of conscience. We need, from the positivists, a more logical and coherent argument than that. Until one comes along, I continue to believe that positivists inherently have a difficult time in dealing with moral questions once they begin by insisting that law and morality are and ought to be separate from each other.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: Positivism, Legal Positivism, Natural Law, Law and Morality, MacCormick (Neil)
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K49Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 18, 2011
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