The Moral Impact Theory of Law
UCLA School of Law and Department of Philosophy
August 13, 2013
123 Yale Law Journal, Forthcoming
UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 13-21
In this essay, I develop an alternative to the two main views of law that have dominated legal thought. My view offers a novel account of how the actions of legal institutions make the law what it is, and a correspondingly novel account of how to interpret legal texts. My focus here is on explaining and refining the theory, rather than arguing for it, as I have provided such arguments elsewhere. According to my view, legal obligations are a certain subset of moral obligations. Legal institutions – legislatures, courts, administrative agencies – take actions that change our moral obligations. They do so by changing the morally relevant facts and circumstances, for example by changing people’s expectations, providing new options, or altering what has been chosen by democratically elected representatives. My theory holds, very roughly, that the resulting moral obligations constitute legal obligations. I call this view the Moral Impact Theory because it holds that the law is the moral impact of the law-creating actions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: philosophy, legal philosophy, philosophy of law, jurisprudence, legal positivism, anti-positivism, law and morality, Dworkin, the standard picture, beyond the standard picture, natural law, evil law, the dependence viewAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 25, 2013 ; Last revised: September 28, 2013
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo4 in 0.344 seconds