Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Mortimer Sellers, Stephan Kirste

Is and Ought Distinction in Legal Philosophy

  • Wojciech Załuski
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0_226-1


The controversy over “Is” and “Ought” distinction appears in legal philosophy in two different contexts: of the discussion about the nature of legal reasoning and of the discussion about the sources of legal normativity (of “legal Ought”). In the former context, the controversy concerns the existence of the so-called logic of norms; in the latter it concerns the nature of “legal Ought,” viz., its relationships to “moral Ought” and to “Is” (social facts). At first glance these two discussions may seem unrelated to each other, but, as will be shown in Conclusions, there are interesting connections between them. At the outset, prior to presenting these discussions and connections, one important observation needs to be made. The legal philosophers participating in these discussions are rarely interested in the problem of deriving “Ought” from “Is.” They, in general, deem this task unfeasible and thereby, so to speak, respect Hume’s famous ban called by Max Black (1964)...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of KrakowKrakowPoland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Miodrag Jovanovic
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theory, Sociology and Philosophy of LawUniversity of Belgrade, Faculty of LawBelgradeSerbia