The Subsidiarity of Law and the Obligation to Obey

(2005) 50 American Journal of Jurisprudence 233-248

13 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2019

Date Written: October 1, 2005


Law is a morally valuable institution, because every community with a legal system has valuable institutional facilities to coordinate the life of the community in a way that is general and systematic. In every legal system, the value of those facilities yields a moral obligation to obey some laws. But the law’s role in guiding conduct is subsidiary to the responsibility to act with a principled attention to the good of persons, and human law by nature is arbitrary in its application in some cases. The combination of its arbitrariness and its subsidiary role mean that there is no general obligation to obey the law.

Keywords: obligation to obey, subsidiarity, political obligation

Suggested Citation

Endicott, Timothy A.O., The Subsidiarity of Law and the Obligation to Obey (October 1, 2005). (2005) 50 American Journal of Jurisprudence 233-248. Available at SSRN:

Timothy A.O. Endicott (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics