Law as Power: Two Rule of Law Requirements

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Abstract. ‘Law as power’ is a neglected topic in contemporary analytical jurisprudence. Attention has been paid, from Hart (and Kelsen) onwards, to normative powers. ‘Brute’ social power, however, and law’s relation to it, are, in post-Hartian jurisprudence, largely overlooked. The subject of this paper is the shape social power takes when the rule of the law is envisaged as an ethico-political ideal—I discuss, that is, the Rule of Law as a specific mode of the exercise of social power, and what is valuable in it. I concentrate on two Rule of Law requirements, consistency (i.e., the avoidance of conflicts) and compliability (i.e., conformity to the ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ principle). They contribute, I argue, to defining a distinctive mode of social power, one that shows respect for its subjects. Power can be effectively exercised by systematically flouting these two desiderata. Consistency and compliability are required, however, if the law is to treat its subjects as autonomous, responsible agents. These two requirements, then, illustrate a threefold conclusion: Rule of Law power is public, rational (i.e., power for rational subjects), and non-paternalistic.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospitePhilosophical Foundations of the Nature of Law
Numero di pagine23
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2013


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