Law’s Autonomy and Moral Reason

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    This paper intends to set out an argument to Legal Idealism and a thesis which holds that law and morality are necessarily connected. My focus is on deconstructing the Positivist argument to the Autonomy Thesis and beginning to reconstruct it through the application of morality to law’s autonomous authority. My aim, ultimately, is to demonstrate how, through the concept of law, practical reason might explain the related (and overlapping) notions of legitimacy, authority and the obligation to obey through the necessary connection of law and morality. That is, I intend to demonstrate that morality both survives and remains identifiable (transparently) following the process of metamorphosis into institutionalised practical reasoning. If this is so, the authority of and obligation to law is simultaneously a form of morally rational obligation. In the response to the Positivist argument that moral values are incommensurate, I will show that this commensurability can be determined ‘artificially’ by a system of institutionalised reasoning (i.e. the law); this is to say, if I can show that the Legal Positivist argument is left incomplete without some explanation of moral values underpinning it, I need not to show that a specific, defensible moral truth or principle is required but that an artificial weighting of abstract moral principles is sufficient.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number6
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).


    • Positivism
    • Natural Law
    • Legal Theory
    • Legal Idealism
    • Gewirth
    • Morality
    • Authority of Law


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