Meta-Ethical Agnosticism in Legal Theory: Mapping a Way Out
Abstract:In his review of Bernard Williams' Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Hart eloquently formulated an apprehension that still haunts much of contemporary jurisprudence: if the moral 'I must' has to be 'seen as coming not from outside, but from what is most deeply inside us ? the fear is that this will not be enough'. I argue that this fear is the byproduct of the dualist outlook within which Hart—and a significant part of contemporary legal theory—is confined: because of his bald naturalist premise, Hart could not conceive of moral objectivity except in terms presupposing an order of Reason resolutely distinct from the 'natural' world. This paper seeks to debunk this dualist outlook by engaging with the kind of 'non-bald' naturalism advocated in different ways by both McDowell and Blackburn. In considering contemporary efforts to draw a middle way between ethical scepticism and metaphysical rationalism, the paper draws on the pragmatic elements emerging from the confrontation between Habermas and Rawls.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 1, 2010
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