University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Juridical Law as a Categorical Imperative

Newhouse, M. E. (2020) Juridical Law as a Categorical Imperative In: Reason, Rights and Law: New Essays on Kantian Philosophy. Political Philosophy Now . University of Wales Press, Cardiff. ISBN 9781786835123

Newhouse Juridical Law Accepted Version.pdf - Accepted version Manuscript

Download (633kB) | Preview


In Kant’s moral and political writings, laws of freedom are called moral laws. There are two types of moral law. As directed merely to external actions and their conformity to law they are juridical laws; but if they also require that they (the laws) themselves be the determining grounds of actions, they are ethical laws’ (6:214).ii Kant also writes: ‘For us, whose choice is sensibly affected and so does not of itself conform to the pure will but often opposes it, moral laws are imperatives (commands or prohibitions) and indeed categorical (unconditional) imperatives’ (6:221). I understand Kant to mean that moral laws are, by definition, unconditional practical laws, which are therefore categorical imperatives for imperfectly rational beings like us.iii This raises a very broad question: how it can be the case that a juridical law is a categorical imperative? Most of this chapter will focus on a somewhat narrower question: how can a statute passed by a legislative body generate an unconditional rational requirement for us to obey?

The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that juridical lawsiv enacted by legislators are categorical imperatives, and that the external incentives that the state links to its legal commands play a critical role in making them so. I will argue that statutory commands must be categorical imperatives if they are to establish juridical laws, and that statutes that fail to establish juridical laws do not obligate us to obey their terms.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Law
Authors :
Newhouse, M.
Editors :
Demiray, Ruhi
Pinheiro Walla, Alice
Date : February 2020
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright 2020 University of Wales Press.
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 01 May 2018 13:40
Last Modified : 10 Mar 2020 11:59

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800