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Legal Objectivity and the Illusion of Legal Principles

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

30 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2008 Last revised: 10 Sep 2011

Larry Alexander

University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: August 18, 2008

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.

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

JEL Classification: K00, K10

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1236222

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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