The Constitution of Authority
Jurisprudence, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 430-441, 2014
19 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2014 Last revised: 14 Jan 2015
Date Written: June 17, 2014
This essay reconsiders Joseph Raz’s service conception of practical authority in light of his most recent work in legal philosophy. That work suggests that the normal justification thesis ought to be understood teleologically, as a principle of legitimacy which makes essential reference to the perfection of a subject’s faculty of Reason. The perfection of Reason is in turn characterised as maximal conformity to the reasons which apply to a person. These organizing ideas have not been sufficiently appreciated by earlier writers on the service conception, and they emphasise the theory’s affinity with classical Greek conceptions of authority and action. However, Raz’s excessive reliance on the notion of a reason, as a consideration counting in favour or against an action or belief, obscures other roles an authority can play in the thought and action of an obedient subject. As Raz’s theory of authority has become more refined and sophisticated over the years, its problems have become more salient; but its enduring influence and significance in the history of philosophy is now beyond doubt.
Keywords: Joseph Raz, authority, jurisprudence, legitimacy, philosophy of law, reasons, teleology
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation