Why the State?

24 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2014 Last revised: 12 Dec 2014

See all articles by Joseph Raz

Joseph Raz

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law; Columbia University - Law School; King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law

Date Written: October 12, 2013


The paper provides a broadly sketched argument about the importance of state-law and its limits, and the way current developments in international relations and international law tend to transform it without displacing its key position among legal systems in general. It argues that state law is (at least until present time) the most comprehensive law-based social organization within its domain. A standing which is manifested by acknowledged legitimacy by those subject to it (or many of them) and sovereignty, namely independence or external bodies. The paper argues that globalisation (broadly conceived) and attending developments in international greatly reduce the sovereignty of states, and transform its legitimate authority within its domain. None of this heralds the elimination of the state, but it does affect the character of states, and poses theories of law with new challenges, including the need to take more seriously legal systems that are not systems of state-law.

Keywords: state-law, international law, sovereignty, legitimacy, practice based rules, the most comprehensive law based social organisation

Suggested Citation

Raz, Joseph, Why the State? (October 12, 2013). King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2014-38; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-427; Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 73/2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2339522 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2339522

Joseph Raz (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Columbia University - Law School ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://josephnraz.googlepages.com/home

King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

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