The Various Relations between Law and Morality in Contemporary Legal Philosophy


  • Paper presented to the Conference on Law and Morality: The Perspective of Michael Moore, University of Bologna, Law School, 23 May 2011. I draw on and repeat the arguments of a number of my past writings in order to make up the present text. These are (in the order used): Moore 1992a, 193–4, 198–200, 203–6; Moore 1988, 302–3, 315–6; Moore 2003, 30; Moore 2007, 1526–32, 1534–58; Moore 1985, 384–8; Moore 1981, 278–81; Moore 2001b, 132–7; Moore 1997a, 874–5.


This paper is intended to be a summary of the author's views on the relationship between law and morality worked out over the past three decades in jurisprudence. The paper preliminarily clarifies the matter by isolating some lines of cleavage separating different questions askable about this relationship. With this done, the author argues for two theses. One, that judges are obligated to use morality in their decisions in particular cases; and two, that the morality judges are obligated to use in their judicial reasonings, is best seen as the natural lawyer sees it, namely, as being part of the law that obligates judges in their role as judges. The author not only believes these theses to be true; he also thinks that these theses are practically important, in that their acceptance by judges (and by the legal culture that reinforces judges) makes for better judging.