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WHAT’S VIRTUOUS ABOUT THE LAW?

  • Kimberley Brownlee (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

Debates about our moral relation to the law typically focus on the moral force of law. Often, the question asked is: Do we have a moral duty to follow the law? Recently, that question has been given a virtue-ethical formulation: Is there a virtue in abiding by the law? This paper considers our moral relation to the law in terms of virtue but focuses on a different question from the traditional ones. The question here is: Can the law model virtue in beneficial ways that enable us to cultivate virtue? This paper shows that the law can do this by setting a moral example that we have good reason to emulate. This is significant given the distinctive influence the law has over our lives. The paper begins by examining the nature of a model, comparing different models of virtue, and then questions the possibility of a complete model of virtue such as the so-called Virtuous Person. The paper then articulates several ways in which the law can model virtue for us and responds to three objections: 1) the embodiment problem, 2) the poisoning problem, and 3) the emulation problem.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

John Gardner , The Virtue of Justice and the Character of the Law, 53 Current Legal Probs. 130 (2000)

Susan Wolf , Moral Psychology and the Unity of the Virtues, 20 Ratio 145167 (2007)

Kimberley Brownlee , Moral Aspirations and Ideals, 22 Utilitas 241257 (2010)

John Tasioulas , Punishment and Repentance, 81 Philosophy 279322 (2006)

John Tasioulas , Mercy, 103 Proc. Aristotelian Soc’y 101132 (2003)

Gregory Kavka , Why Even Morally Perfect People Would Need Government, 12 Soc. Phil. & Pol’y 118 (1995)

Philip Pettit & Geoffrey Brennan , Restrictive Consequentialism, 64 Australasian J. Phil. 438455 (1986)

Philip Pettit , The Consequentialist Can Recognise Rights, 38 Phil. Q. 4255 (1988)

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Legal Theory
  • ISSN: 1352-3252
  • EISSN: 1469-8048
  • URL: /core/journals/legal-theory
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