Raz on Necessity
24 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2003 Last revised: 26 May 2009
Date Written: April 30, 2003
The article uses Joseph Raz's work as the starting point for a general discussion of the role of necessity and essence in jurisprudence. Analytical legal theorists commonly assert (or assume) that they are offering conceptual truths, claims regarding attributes necessarily true of all legal systems. Is it tenable to speak about necessary truths with a humanly created institution like law? Upon closer investigation, the use of necessary truths in writers like Raz and Jules Coleman clearly differs from the way such terms are used in classical metaphysics, and even in contemporary discussions of natural kind terms. Nonetheless, theorists making conceptual statements regarding law are making significant and ambitious claims that need to be defended - for example, against naturalists like Brian Leiter, who doubt the value of conceptual analysis, and normative theorists like Stephen Perry, who argue that assertions about the nature of law require value-laden moral and political choices between tenable alternatives.
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