A powerful argument for the essential role of morality in law, getting at the heart of key debates in public life.
What is law? And how does it relate to morality? It’s common to think that law and morality are different ways of regulating our lives. But Scott Hershovitz says that this is a mistake: law is a part of our moral lives. It’s a tool we use to adjust our moral relationships. The legal claims we advance in court, Hershovitz argues, are moral claims. And our legal conflicts are moral conflicts.
Law Is a Moral Practice supplies fresh answers to fundamental questions about the nature of law and helps us better appreciate why we disagree about law so deeply. Reviving a neglected tradition of legal thought most famously associated with Ronald Dworkin, Hershovitz engages with important legal and political controversies of our time, including recent debates about constitutional interpretation and the obligations of citizens and officials to obey the law.
Leavened by entertaining personal stories, guided by curiosity rather than ideology, moving beyond entrenched dichotomies like the opposition between positivism and natural law, Law Is a Moral Practice is a thought-provoking investigation of the philosophical issues behind real-world legal debates.
Masterful. With clarity, humor, and insight, Scott Hershovitz declutters jurisprudence. Condemning the philosophical ‘original sin’ of reducing law to rules and the ‘obsession’ with separating law from morals, he shows that the embattled ideal of the rule of law is itself a part of a shared moral outlook. Law Is a Moral Practice resets a field and pries it open, making it newly accessible to non-specialists and ordinary people.
Scott Hershovitz has written an important defense of the view that law both reflects and informs what we owe each other morally. Eschewing the labels that have long encrusted discourse about law and morality, he offers a welcoming introduction for novices and a sophisticated argument for those already steeped in positivist-antipositivist debates.
A major original contribution to jurisprudence and a delight to read. Scott Hershovitz explains abstruse claims and develops nuanced philosophical arguments in lucid prose that is eminently accessible to non-specialists, yet the discussion remains rigorous at all times.
So much philosophical writing bludgeons the reader with arguments, objections, replies, and counter-arguments, ad nauseam. Law Is a Moral Practice takes another approach, persuading the reader with the elegance and power of its philosophical picture. It succeeds masterfully.
An outstanding contribution to its field. Hershovitz’s position is essential, and his argument for it is philosophically deep and often much funnier than it has any right to be. Best of all, he brings out the direct connections between philosophical jurisprudence and legal practice, giving his readers important insights into an essential human activity.
- 256 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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