Practical Reason in Law and Morality

ISBN : 9780199693467

Neil MacCormick
240 ページ
172 x 234 mm
Law, State, and Practical Reason

The concept of practical reason is central to contemporary thought on ethics and the philosophy of law - acting well means acting for good reasons. Explaining this requires several stages. How do reasons relate to actions at all, as incentives and in explanations? What are values, how do they relate to human nature, and how do they enter practical reasoning? How do the concepts of 'right and wrong' fit in, and in what way do they involve questions of mutual trust among human beings? How does our moral freedom - our freedom to form our own moral commitments - relate to our responsibilities to each other? How is this final question transposed into law and legal commitments? This book explores these questions, vital to understanding the nature of law and morality. It presents a clear account of practical reason, valuable to students of moral philosophy and jurisprudence at undergraduate or postgraduate levels. For more advanced scholars it also offers a reinterpretation of Kant's views on moral autonomy and Smith's on self-command, marrying Smith's 'moral sentiments' to Kant's 'categorical imperative' in a novel way. The book concludes and underpins the author's Law, State, and Practical Reason series. Taken together the books offer an overarching theory of the nature of law and legal reason, the role of the State, and the nature of moral reason and judgement.


1. Incentives and Reasons
2. Values and Human Nature
3. Right and Wrong
4. Questions of Trust
5. Autonomy and Reason
6. Obedience, Freedom and Engagement - or Utility?
7. Society, Property, and Commerce
8. On Justice
9. Using Freedom Well
10. Judging: Legal Cases and Moral Questions
11. Practical Reason, Law, and State


The late Neil MacCormick was Regius Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University since 1972 where he served various terms as Dean of the Faculty of Law, Provost of the Faculty Group of Law and Social Sciences, and Vice-Principal (International). His previous posts were at Balliol College (Fellow and Tutor in Jurisprudence 1967-72) and St Andrew's University (Lecturer in Jurisprudence, Queen's College Dundee, 1965-7) From 1999 to 2004 he served as Member of the European Parliament (Scotland, Scottish National Party/European Free Alliance), and had the unusual experience of participating in the Constitutional Convention that drafted the currently derailed constitution for Europe. In 2007, Neil MacCormick was elected President of the 'IVR', the International association for the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy. This marks his rare international distinction as a leader in philosophy of law World-wide.