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The Moral Puzzle of Legal Authority: 'Having' Reasons in Law

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Law has authority because it is good and parents have authority because children love their parents. Let us consider the latter reason. If we ask a child ‘why do you love your mother?’ The child might reply that it is because they purport to do good. Parents and law have authority because they purport to do good. But is it the case that if I purport to do good, I also can have authority rather than the law, for example? The ‘special status’ argument needs refinement. This is provided by the idea that such authorities purport to do good and they endeavour to do it in such a special way3 as to guarantee the success of the enterprise. In the case of parents, they have a special commitment to their children, they love them and this provides a guarantee, in principle, that the parent will act for the good of the child. Similarly in the case of the law, human goods and human ends can only be achieved through the very special institutional character of law ​
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