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A Sceptical Theory of Morality and Law


James Allan

A Sceptical Theory of Morality and Law aims ultimately to cast light on some contentious issues in the philosophy of law, including the nature of rights and of judicial interpretation. The answers one gives, however, rest on the moral theory one finds most convincing. The first part of this book gives a sustained defence of a sceptical moral theory owing much to the views of David Hume. That version of scepticism is then relied upon in the author's discussion of law and legal theory.


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Introduction 1


Introduction The ultimate aim of this book is to cast some light on the phenomenon of Jaw. I will eventually consider three of the most contentious issues in the philosophy of Jaw, they being the question of interpretation, the nature of rights, and the desirability of separating Jaw and morality. However, all three of these issues of legal philosophy I will leave for the second part of this book. Instead I begin not with Jaw but with morality. A theory of law implicitly or explicitly subsumes a moral theory because on any theory of law there is some relation between morality and law. I will start by making my theory of morality explicit. But a moral theory itself rests on a particular view of human nature, on some general sort of explanation of the way human beings live and think and feel. Such an explanation will provide at least the bare basis of the moral theory which itself underlies a theory of law. To offer a coherent account of aspects of legal theory is then, at minimum, to be consistent with one's underlying moral theory and treatment of human nature. However, I have deliberately used the indefinite article 'a' because it is a tenet of what is to come in this book that single right answers, in all practical affairs such as law and morality, do not exist. I will offer 'a' coherent picture of various aspects of the phenomenon of law while recognising that there are many other pictures...

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