This book offers an advanced introduction to central questions in legal philosophy. What factors determine the content of the law in force? What makes a normative system a legal system? How does law beyond the state differ from domestic law? What kind of moral force does law have? The most important existing views are introduced, but the aim is not to survey the existing literature. Rather, this book introduces the subject by stepping back from the fray to sketch the big picture, to show just what is at stake in these old debates. Legal philosophy has become somewhat arid and inward looking. In part this is because the disagreement between the main camps on the important questions is apparently intractable. The main aim of the book is to suggest both a diagnosis and a proper practical response to this situation of intractable disagreement about questions that do matter.
Liam Murphy works in legal, moral, and political philosophy and the application of these inquiries to law and legal theory. He has published two books: Moral Demands in Nonideal Theory (2000) and The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice (2002, with Thomas Nagel). His articles have appeared in Philosophy and Public Affairs among other journals. Murphy has been an associate editor and now is a member of the editorial board of Philosophy and Public Affairs. He was vice dean of the New York University School of Law from 2007 to 2010.
1. Introduction; 2. Morality and the grounds of law; 3. Legal positivism; 4. Nonpositivism; 5. Disagreement in practical philosophy; 6. Law; 7. The normative force of law; 8. What makes law law?: law beyond the state; 9. Conclusion: what matters?