The Question Why and the Common Good

11 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2016

See all articles by Grégoire Webber

Grégoire Webber

Queen's University - Faculty of Law; London School of Economics - Law Department

Date Written: July 28, 2016


Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco’s monograph, Law and Authority under the Guise of the Good (Hart 2014) is an insightful study of intentional human action. With special reference to Anscombe’s scholarship, Rodriguez-Blanco’s aim is to illuminate ‘the nature of human institutions such as law’ by reference to the wider study of human affairs, specifically the philosophy of action (practical reason, human agency) and the idea of human goods as ends of human action. This essay offers two lines of inquiry for further reflection. The first examines whether Anscombe’s why-question methodology, deployed with success at several stages of the book’s argument, can arrive at the book’s ultimate aim: to ‘fully grasp the nature of legal authority and legal normativity’ (13). I offer a friendly amendment or clarification to demonstrate how it can, so long as two different ways of asking why are distinguished. The second line of inquiry examines whether identifying undifferentiated ‘good-making characteristics’ as the end of intelligent action is a sufficiently secure foundation for developing a general philosophical understanding of law. I invite Rodriguez-Blanco to develop an account of the good that could ground not only a reason to comply with the law, but more forcefully a (defeasible but) decisive reason to do so, and suggest that such an account may be found in the common good.

Keywords: philosophy of law, jurisprudence, Anscombe, philosophy of action, common good, methodology

Suggested Citation

Webber, Grégoire, The Question Why and the Common Good (July 28, 2016). Queen's University Legal Research Paper No. 075. Available at SSRN:

Grégoire Webber (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L3N6


London School of Economics - Law Department ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom


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