Law and Objectivity

Law and Objectivity

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Is law "objective?" Should law be objective? These questions continue to generate argument and confusion. In this book, Kent Greenawalt clarifies the different senses in which law might be objective, and examines claims that it is so. Greenawalt begins by considering skeptical views about the meaning of language. Inquiring into the language of legal standards and whether it can yield correct answers to legal problems, he explores how the language of authoritative standards can indicate a single correct resolution in some cases, but not in others. The book's second part considers the ways in which the substance of the law may be more or less objective. One critical problem examined here concerns reliance on "objective" standards of "reasonable people, " or standards that rely on particular characteristics of individuals. A second problem is whether standards of law treat various groups fairly. A third involves appropriate levels of generality for legal standards, and the claim of some feminists that in its abstractness and generality the law is overly "masculine." In Part Three, Greenawalt discusses the relation between law and "external" standards of evaluation. He focuses on standards of community morality, economic efficiency, and sound moral and political philosophy, and shows that legal evaluation often includes the use of such standards. Greenawalt goes on to argue that claims stating legal questions always have correct answers must rest on similar claims that questions of moral and political philosophy also have such "objectively" correct answers. He contends that many of the latter questions do have correct answers, based on best reasons that are generally accessible; extremeskepticism about the law's objectivity is thus unwarranted. He concludes, however, that other questions do not have answers that are correct in this sense; therefore not all legal questions can have correct answers. An important discussion of fundamental issues in current legal philoshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 300 pages
  • 136.9 x 207.8 x 20.6mm | 447.88g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195098331
  • 9780195098334
  • 1,189,838

Review quote

The whole book is marked by the familiar characteristics of Greenawalt's writings: clear and thought-provoking examples; a manifest desire to dispel confusion even at the risk of being considered excessively prosaic; and a large amount of good sense. * Times Higher Education Supplement *show more

Back cover copy

In recent times, a belief in the objectivity of the law has been undermined by skepticism about legal institutions and ideals of unbiased evaluation, and a conviction that language is necessarily indeterminate. Beginning with a thorough examination of the language of legal standards, the nature of these standards is considered, asking whether law should in fact treat people 'objectively, ' according to abstract rules and general more

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