Law, Reason, and Emotion

Philosophy of Law and Theory of the State No. 1-2, 2014.

31 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2016

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2014


The purpose of this paper is to provoke some thought about the relationship between "Law, Reason, and Emotion" (the theme of the 2015 IVR World Congress in Washington, DC), The author suggests that law, reason and emotion are inextricably intertwined and in fact the central values of any effective system of justice, The foundational axiom posited for rational justice is that every human being has value and that all deserve support and encouragement in living worthwhile and fulfilling lives with other human beings, The best legislation and the most interesting and persuasive philosophy and interpretation of the law will take our natural human emotions into account, as they relate to the possibility of a good life and the rules of a just society, Emotions should be cultivated or not according to their value and likely effects, in the light of reason and justice. We cannot and should not deny the law claim to reason, but emotions remain the first and final basis of justice and ultimate foundation of the law.

Note: A revised version of this text will be published as part of of the book "Law, Reason, and Emotion" (to appear, 2017) edited by Mortimer Sellers.

Keywords: law, reason, emotion, justice, effectiveness, rule of law

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K39, K49, K33

Suggested Citation

Sellers, Mortimer Newlin Stead, Law, Reason, and Emotion (2014). Philosophy of Law and Theory of the State No. 1-2, 2014.. Available at SSRN: or

Mortimer Newlin Stead Sellers (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

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