The Legal Relation: Legal Theory after Legal Positivism (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy and Law)

What is law? The usual answer is that the law is a system of norms. But this answer gives us at best half of the story. The law is a way of relating to one another. We do not do this as lovers or friends and not as people who are interested in obtaining guidance

What is law? The usual answer is that the law is a system of norms. But this answer gives us at best half of the story. The law is a way of relating to one another. We do not do this as lovers or friends and not as people who are interested in obtaining guidance from moral insight. In a legal context, we are cast as ‘character masks’ (Marx), for example, as ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’ or ‘landlord’ and ‘tenant’. We expect to have our claims respected simply because the law has given us rights. We do not want to give any other reason for our behavior than the fact that we have a legal right. Backing rights up with coercive threats indicates that we are willing to accept legal obligations unwillingly. This book offers a conceptual reconstruction of the legal relation on the basis of a critique of legal positivism.

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