(Review of) Philip Soper, the Ethics of Deference
Theoria, Vol. 2, 2006
10 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2006
Philip Soper maintains (i) that law does not claim moral authority but has it, and (ii) that the moral authority that law has can be analyzed in terms of a general duty to defer to the normative views of others. In advancing (i), he goes against certain contemporary legal theorists, who maintain that law claims moral authority but does not have it;1 in advancing (ii), he offers a novel approach to the old problem of political obligation. Soper's focus in this book is on the problem of political obligation. He explains that his approach to this problem differs from other approaches, inter alia, in that the theory of deference he defends has broader scope - on Soper's analysis, the obligation to obey the law is just a special case of the general duty to defer to the normative views of others - and is based on a study of the nature of law. I begin with a consideration of Soper's views on the nature of law. I then comment on the theory of deference and its relation to Soper's analysis of the nature of law.
Keywords: natural law theory, legal positivism, nature of law, political obligation
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