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The Autonomy of LawEssays on Legal Positivism$
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Robert P. George

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198267904

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198267904.001.0001

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Law’s Autonomy and Public Practical Reason

Law’s Autonomy and Public Practical Reason

(p.79) 4 Law’s Autonomy and Public Practical Reason
The Autonomy of Law

Gerald J. Postema

Oxford University Press

Cicero stated that political authority and laws were both invented for the purpose of establishing and securing justice and the equality of rights. Others propose that laws are founded out of people's doubts, when a ruler or king does not satisfy in rulings enacted. The special virtue of law is that it can address matters of justice and rights to all citizens, at all times, with a single voice. After all, why depend on a possible fallible judgment of a single person, when people can depend on a standard that has been decided on by a consensus? This chapter aims to examine one particular thesis about the nature of law, called the Autonomy Thesis. According to this thesis, legal reasoning is a viable and vital form of public practical forcing of the norms. The way legal reasoning proceeds in this matter is determined by criteria that make no reference to considerations of political morality. The Autonomy Thesis states in abstract a form of description for certain fundamental features of law, a supposed thesis for law in general. The discussions at the core of this thesis lead to the description of three more theses: the limited domain thesis, pre-emption thesis and sources thesis.

Keywords:   Autonomy Thesis, limited domain thesis, Cicero, sources thesis, justice, rulings, norms

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