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A Matter of DisputeMorality, Democracy, and Law$
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Christopher J. Peters

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195387223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387223.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

A Government of Laws

Chapter:
(p.1) 1. Introduction
Source:
A Matter of Dispute
Author(s):

Christopher J. Peters (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387223.003.0002

This introductory chapter develops the book's central problem—the problem of legal authority—and outlines the book's arguments in response to it. It introduces the apparent tension between morality and law by juxtaposing John Adams's ideal of “a government of laws and not of men” against Aristotle's prescription that the “best man” rather than the “best law” should rule. As Aristotle recognized, laws inevitably have exceptions—situations in which the morally best thing to do is something other than what the law commands. Why should the “best men” not feel free to ignore the law in such circumstances? The chapter foreshadows the book's dispute-resolution framework for answering that question and situates the problem of legal authority in the context of several seemingly diverse fields of study: analytic legal philosophy, democratic political theory, theory of adjudication, and public-law theory.

Keywords:   legal authority, obedience to law, John Adams, Aristotle, government of laws, dispute resolution, analytic legal philosophy, democratic theory, adjudication, public law

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