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Law's Humility

Enlarging the Scope of Jurisprudential Disagreement

By: Triantafyllos Gkouvas
Media of Law's Humility
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Published: 25-02-2021
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 304
ISBN: 9781509936526
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Law and Practical Reason
RRP: £54.00
Online price : £43.20
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Loren Epson

About Law's Humility

This book invites newcomers to analytical legal philosophy to reconsider the terms in which they are accustomed to describing and defending their jurisprudential allegiances. It argues that familiar taxonomic labels such as legal positivism, natural law theory and legal interpretivism are poor guides to the actual diversity of views on the nature and normativity of law, mainly because they fail to carve up the reality of jurisprudential disagreement at its joints. These joints, the author suggests, are elusive because the semantics of law systematically misplaces them. Their true nature resides in the metaontological and metanormative features that dictate or indicate the target of a theory's jurisprudential commitments.

The book advocates a new vocabulary for articulating these commitments without eliminating the use of familiar criteria of division among competing theories of law. The resulting picture is a much broader platform of meaningful disagreement about the nature and grounds of legal truth and legal normativity. Albeit based on a factualist-cognitivist understanding of the sources and grounds of law, the book reserves ample room for the unconvinced. Those suspicious of the project of “ontologising” theoretical disagreements in law can avail themselves of the quietist or anti-metaphysical avenue that the book's alternative taxonomy also makes available. The humblest path to law's reality may not be metaphysically ambitious after all.

Table Of Contents

1. From Legalese to Ontologese
I. Dworkin's Vision of Jurisprudential Disagreement
II. The Site and Scope of Jurisprudential Disagreement
III. Legal Facts and Legal Propositions

2. Relating Legal Propositions to Legal Facts
I. Legal Truthmakers
II. From a Theory of Truth to a Theory of Truthmaking
III. Legal Propositionalism
IV. Legal Propositionalism without Legal Truthmakers

3. Relating Legal Facts to Legal Propositions
I. Two Hypotheses about Jurisprudential Perspectivalism
A. Pragmatic Perspectivalism
B. Semantic Perspectivalism
C. Perspectival Theoretical Disagreement
II. Non-perspectival Jurisprudential Statements
III. Are Constitutive Disputes Merely Verbal?
IV. Constitutive Disagreement and the Practical Point of View

4. Two Levels of Disagreement about the Metaphysics of Law
I. Legal Constitution and its Discontents
A. First-Order Disagreement over Legal Constitution
B. Second-Order Disagreement over Legal Constitution
II. Objectionable Jurisprudential Commitments
III. Disagreement over Legal Grounding

5. Resisting Ordinary Reasons Imperialism
I. Axes of Normative Relevance
II. Normative Roles
III. Rational Requirements, Asymmetry and Response-Constraint
IV. Thick Evaluation, Global Judgement and Constitutive Impact

6. The Metric Approach to Legal Normativity
I. The Limits of the Metric Approach
II. Legal Facts as Nexus Reasons
A. The Influential Role of Legal Facts
B. The Evaluative Role of Legal Facts
C. The Explanatory Role of Legal Facts

7. Two Levels of Disagreement about the Normativity of Law
I. First-Order Disagreement about the Grounds of Nexus Facts
II. Second-Order Disagreement about the Normativity of Legal Facts
A. How Can a Legal Interpretivist Disagree with a Nexus Theorist?
B. How Can a Plan Positivist Disagree with a Nexus Theorist?


“This is an important and substantive contribution to metaphysical and methodological debates in the philosophy of law. The book advances a sophisticated analysis that deserves a careful consideration and discussion.” –  Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco, Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy, University of Surrey, UK

“In Law's Humility, Gkouvas provides us with a refreshing account of legal disagreements, able to place this issue between the metaphysics of law – in terms of grounding – and the legal normativity – in terms of reasons for action.” –  JJ Moreso, Professor of Legal Philosophy, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

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