Legal as a Thick Concept
Hebrew University - The Philosophy Department and the Law School
San Francisco State University
August 1, 2012
W.J. Waluchow & Stefan Sciaraffa eds., The Nature of Law: Contemporary Perspectives (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming).
Some features of legal judgments suggest that a descriptivist characterization of them would be apt, whereas some other features invite a normativist characterization. A characterization of legal judgments as those employing thick concepts -- i.e. concepts that have both descriptive and normative contents -- offers a nice accommodation of both sets of explananda. More particularly, this chapter proposes that legal be construed as a thick concept. This characterization enables us to regiment clearly some frequently discussed but still obscure issues in legal philosophy -- including Hart's distinction between internal and external legal statements, Dworkin's claim that determinations of what the law is necessarily require the determining persons to take up a view about "the point" or "justifying purpose" of the law, the nature of the so-called detached legal statements that Raz has highlighted, and the Kelsenian presupposition of the basic norm -- that have direct bearings on the debate about the nature of law. Our proposal also infuses legal philosophy with some hitherto neglected questions by placing some legal philosophical concerns within the general philosophical context of the discussion about thick concepts.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: legal judgments, thick concepts, nature of law, internal legal statements, external legal statements, detached legal statementsAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 2, 2012
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