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An Epistemic Case for Legal Moralism

Goodin, RE (2010) 'An Epistemic Case for Legal Moralism.' Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 30 (4). pp. 615-633. ISSN 0143-6503

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Ignorance of the law is no excuse, or so we are told. But why not? The statute books run to hundreds of volumes. How can an ordinary citizen know what is in them? The best way might be for law (at least in its wide-scope duty-conferring aspects) to track broad moral principles that ordinary citizens can know and apply for themselves. In contrast to more high-minded and deeply principled arguments, this epistemic argument for legal moralism is purely pragmatic—but importantly so. For law to do what law is supposed to do, which is to be action-guiding, people need to be able to intuit without detailed investigation what the law is for most common and most important cases of their conduct, and to intuit when their intuitions are likely to be unreliable and hence that they need to investigate further what the law actually is.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: drafting; legislation; morals and law
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2012 09:25
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:36

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