Two Tales of Finding the Content of Law

7 Pages Posted: 21 May 2019

See all articles by Mika Lehtimäki

Mika Lehtimäki

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 10, 2019


The paper examines two different views of understanding the content of law and truth of our legal propositions, arguing that this largely depends on our point of view on law. However, furthering our understanding of the nature of law also depends on our ability to elucidate law’s relation to morality, the nature of normative claims made by law and the relationship between validity of legal norms and their justification. These factors determine and restrict the way we can ascertain the content of law.

I examine in the paper, on the one hand, Joseph Raz’s statement on the scope of justifiable implication of the content on authoritative directives and intentions on law-makers and, on the other hand, Ronald Dworkin’s account on the role of integrity in identification and justification of legal norms. This means comparing Raz's argument that identification of law cannot rely on substantive political or moral argumentation and Dworkin’s account of law as integrity, which relies inherently on political morality, understanding the content of law as transparent to the scheme of principles justifying our authoritative directives.

I argue in this paper that Raz’s and Dworkin’s views are incompatible concerning their relationships to morality, their justificatory aspects and ascertainment of legal content. However, they show that conceptual truths about law should correspond to our actual legal practices and that there may be space for refinements in their respective theories. But this leads to pluralistic views on law that remain to be explored.

Keywords: jurisprudence, legal theory, Raz, Dworkin, morality, integrity, hard legal positivism

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Lehtimäki, Mika, Two Tales of Finding the Content of Law (April 10, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Mika Lehtimäki (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

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