Ideals in Law
IVR Encyclopaedia of Jurisprudence, Legal Theory and Philosophy of Law, online, April 2009
6 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2010
Date Written: April 2009
“Ideals” are sometimes regarded as irrelevant to law - especially in the context of legal practice. However, there are several reasons to regard ideals as a separate category in law. We examine the question how ideals should be understood. Different conceptions of ideals can be classified as belonging to either of two traditions. The first regards ideals as transcendent; the second tradition sees ideals as immanent. The answer to the question what role ideals play in law depends on how one regards ideals, values, principles and rules. A further question is for what purposes, if any, we have to pay attention to ideals in law. We discuss three issues to which ideals are central – legal development, pluralism of law, and professional ethics.
Keywords: values in law, Radbruch, Dworkin, Fuller, principles and rules, natural law, positive law and natural law, legal ethics
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