Legal Facts and Reasons for Action: Between Deflationary and Robust Conceptions of Law’s Reason-Giving Capacity

In Frederick Schauer, Christoph Bezemek & Nicoletta Bersier Ladavac (eds.), The Normative Force of the Factual: Legal Philosophy Between is and Ought. Springer Verlag. pp. 151-170 (2019)
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This chapter considers whether legal requirements can constitute reasons for action independently of the merits of the requirement at hand. While jurisprudential opinion on this question is far from uniform, sceptical views are becoming increasingly dominant. Such views typically contend that, while the law can be indicative of pre-existing reasons, or can trigger pre-existing reasons into operation, it cannot constitute new reasons. This chapter offers support to a somewhat less sceptical position, according to which the fact that a legal requirement has been issued can be a reason for action, yet one that is underpinned by bedrock values which law is apt to serve. Notions discussed here include a value-based conception of reasons as facts ; a distinction between complete and incomplete reasons ; and David Enoch’s idea of triggering reason-giving. Following a discussion of criticism against the view adopted here, the chapter concludes by considering some more ‘robust’ conceptions of law’s reason-giving capacity.

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Noam Gur
Queen Mary University of London


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