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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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The Concept of Law and The Concept of Law

The Concept of Law and The Concept of Law

(p.163) 6 The Concept of Law and The Concept of Law
The Autonomy of Law

Neil Maccormick

Oxford University Press

The discussion in this chapter starts from the ideas of Hart's legal positivism: that morality and law are conceptually distinct. The first section of the chapter raises examples and case studies related to life and death, in which the rulings are viewed as rather controversial — following laws and ethics, rather than what is morally sound. Law settles what moral consensus cannot; whether or not it is in favour of what is morally right. Law is institutional, authoritative and heteronomous, which is a far cry from the discursive and autonomous character essential to morality. The next few sections of the chapter delve further into institutional, authoritative, and heteronomous issues. Finally, the chapter mitigates the sharpness of the contrast in relation to practical reason, law, and morality in relation to law.

Keywords:   law, morality, institutional issues, Hart, practical reason, authoritative issues, heteronomous issues

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