Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Mortimer Sellers, Stephan Kirste

Authority of Law

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0_377-1

The First Thread of the Web: Grasping the Question

Law transforms our lives in the most important way: it changes how we act and because of this it gives rise to fundamental questions. One such question concerns legal authority and individual autonomy and asks: if we are autonomous agents how do legislators, judges and officials have legitimate authority to change our actions and indirectly change how we conduct our lives? We conceive ourselves as active agents who determine how and when to act, and we conceive ourselves as the planners of our own lives and the creators of change. Law asks us, however, to perform actions that range from the trivial to the complex. But how is it possible for me to do, in full awareness, as the law asks and, at the same time, be in control of my own destiny? How is my free will affected by the law?

But how is this possible when I am simply trying to conform with what the law says? This means, I am trying to follow what the law says without giving much...


Legal Commands Legitimate Legal Authority Requisite Mental State Moral Law Regard Myself 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Section editors and affiliations

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