Re: Property and the Law

From: Russell Blackford (
Date: Fri Jul 27 2001 - 17:44:00 MDT

Daniel said

>I did not think you were a statist, though I did think you were a legal
>positivist -- in my use of the term. (Perhaps my usage is a
misinterpretation. I'll have to sleep on that.:)

Well, I'd say I'm in the tradition of Hart and Raz, if that helps. I don't
think either of them rules out moral critiques of the law - *I* certainly
don't. While their views are highly complex, I think they'd essentially say
that bad laws are (1) bad but (2) nonetheless laws. This strikes me as
commonsense, but some natural law theorists would say that sufficiently bad
laws are not laws at all, even if they have pretty compelling
characteristics of legal norms such as appearing in
the statute books.

The point I was trying to make was a simple one, that you have to have a
*theory* of what makes laws good and bad before condemning particular laws,
not just say, for example, that taxation looks awfully like theft in some
ways, *therefore* "taxation is theft". I'm not saying such moral critiques
of the law can't be done, or that Jerry was necessarily making such an error
as I just described. I just wanted to probe him a bit on what his theory
was, including what political or legal philosophy he might have been using.
He seems to be relying a lot on Ayn Rand. And he doesn't seem to have minded
my gentle probing too much. (Right, Jerry? Jerry??) :-)

>My point on political philosophy was not to belittle you (or anyone),
but just to show that the answers you want might require a wider net than
the one you are casting.

Okay. Good to have that cleared up.



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