Social, Legal, and Moral Norms

40 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2022

Date Written: December 12, 2022


The purpose of this chapter is conceptual ground-clearing for the analysis which will follow. We will be concerned for the remainder of this essay with the nature of legal norms and their connection to several other concepts–sovereignty, ideology, and positive law chief amongst them. I begin with a working definition of norms, chosen in part to exclude from our discussion ‘norms’ (in the philosophical and social scientific literature) of a pure equilibrium type. I then argue that an analysis of a norm can take stock of how and where the norm comes from (its “legislative” dimension), how it is enforced against violators (its “executive” dimension), and the source of dispositive interpretive authority (its “judicial” dimension). Complications to this picture from various sources, including contemporary legal theory and Austin’s theory of law, are discussed.

Suggested Citation

Perkins, Jordan L., Social, Legal, and Moral Norms (December 12, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Jordan L. Perkins (Contact Author)

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