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Giannella Lecture: What Is 'Morality' Anyway?

38 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2000 Last revised: 27 Dec 2013

Michael J. Perry

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 2000


Many law professors (Posner, Dworkin, Finnis, Nussbaum, etc.) spend a lot of time these days talking about "morality." The penetration of legal discourse by moral discourse is not surprising. Moral controversy, after all, is often at the center of legal controversy. Nonetheless, it is often obscure what we citizens of the legal academy, and others, are talking about -- and often clear that we are not all talking about the same thing -- when we talk (argue) about "morality." Using Richard Posner's conception of "morality" in his book, The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory (1999), as a point of departure, Professor Perry addresses the question that is the title of his essay "What is 'Morality' Anyway?" He sketches the three fundamental questions -- or sets of questions -- that constitute the heart of "moral" inquiry and argument.

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Perry, Michael J., Giannella Lecture: What Is 'Morality' Anyway? (January 1, 2000). Villanova Law Review, Vol. 45, pp. 69-105, 2000. Available at SSRN: or

Michael John Perry (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-712-2086 (Phone)

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