Legal Commitments and Religious Commitments

17 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2008

See all articles by Joseph Vining

Joseph Vining

University of Michigan Law School


Person, individual, purpose, value, authority: Can these be realities for law without making a commitment to law into a religious commitment? Can the affinities between the world of law and the world of religious life be as close as they are without leading one to conclude, empirically or introspectively, that these dimensions of experience are the same? In a comment on Steven Smith's Law's Quandary, this essay suggests law has an ontology of its own. As Smith argues, the language of everyday life does not fully reach what is real for law, and law's ontology is clearly not limited to the ontology of science and mathematics. But we can think law need not live in an "ontological gap" unless absorbed into religious life. What is real for law is connected to what is real in religious life, but a commitment to law and a religious commitment are not the same. As dimensions of human experience, law and religious life may be not separate but nonetheless not the same.

Keywords: Law and religion, law and science, law and mathematics, ontology, realism, natural law, faith and reason, person, individual, authority, rationality

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Vining, Joseph, Legal Commitments and Religious Commitments. U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 109, San Diego Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 69, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Joseph Vining (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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