Validity and Obligation in Natural Law Theory: Does Finnis Come Too Close to Legal Positivism?
27 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2013
Date Written: 2003
The relation between law and morality is a point of contention amongst legal philosophers. There are several issues: first, the extent to which law should incorporate moral standards; second, the effect of moral status on legal validity (the "validity question"); third, the effect of legal validity on the obligation created by the law (the "obedience question"). Because most positivists concede that it is desirable for law to accord with notions of justice and morals and that law often incorporates morals, the first issue features less prominently in the positivism-natural law debate. This article examines John Finnis's views on the latter two issues: the validity question and the obedience question. In doing so, this article points out the implications of the manner in which positivism and natural law theory deal with these questions.
Keywords: unjust laws, legal validity, natural law theory, legal positivism, John Finnis
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