Disagreement about the kind law

Jurisprudence 12 (1):1-16 (2020)
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This paper argues that the disagreement between positivists and nonpositivists about law is substantive rather than merely verbal, but that the depth and persistence of the disagreement about law, unlike for the case of morality, threatens skepticism about law. The range of considerations that can be brought to bear to help resolve moral disagreements is broader than is the case for law, thus improving the prospects of reconciliation in morality. But the central argument of the paper is that law, unlike morality, is a concept-dependent social kind, in the sense that law cannot exist in a society without someone in that society having the concept of law. Since the existence of the social kind law is largely dependent on the existence of the corresponding concept, when different actors have different concepts, they can end up creating different kinds. Hence, the difference between positivists and nonpositivists is not just a conceptual one but is capable of giving rise to different legal norms.

Author Profiles

Muhammad Ali Khalidi
CUNY Graduate Center
Liam Murphy
New York University


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