Law and Morality

Part of the Philosophy and Politics - Critical Explorations book series (PPCE, volume 3)


Law and morality are two normative systems that control and regulate behaviors in a human community so as to allow harmonious and effective intersubjectivity between individuals who recognize one another as bearers of rights. Both notions have their common foundation in the concept of individual autonomy and equal respect for everyone. They have a complementary relationship. Law compensates for the functional weaknesses of morality and morality tempers the mechanical implementation of positive law through the notions of solidarity and responsibility. Different legal thinkers have interpreted the relationship between law and morality in different ways. On the one hand, there are those who argue that law and morality are independent – though not unrelated. For this first group, a law cannot be disregarded merely because it is morally indefensible. On the other hand, there are those who maintain that law and morality are interdependent. For this second group, any law that claims to regulate behavioral expectations must be in harmony with moral norms. Approached from this perspective, the law must be enacted in such a way that it secures the welfare of the individual and the good of the community. Thus, the aim of all laws should be both the attainment of the end of the state and the common good of the community, both immediate and ultimate. For Habermas, law and morality deal with the same problem: legitimately ordering interpersonal relationships through justified norms.


Autonomy Discourse ethics Law Legal positivism Morality Natural law Solidarity 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculté de PhilosophieUniversité Loyola du CongoKinshasa-GombeCongo, Republic

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