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Title: Relational norms
Author: Mullins, Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 3865
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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The thesis is a study of relational norms - those norms that regulate how we behave in our valuable relationships. I argue that the presence of relational norms in the law reflects its capacities and limitations as an instrument for the guidance of conduct. I make three arguments in support of this claim. First, I argue that we have norms that are constitutive of our practically significant relationships. Second, I argue that the content and justification of these relationships is not necessarily reflected in their legal forms. Third, I argue that we can have relationships that are justified by their instrumental value. There are three Parts to this thesis, each of which is devoted to one of these claims. Part I discusses relational norms in practical reasoning. I identify relational norms as norms that constitute a relationship of value. I then argue that we can owe obligations to one another in what I call the 'relationship sense'. These obligations are neither necessarily enforceable, nor necessarily correlate with the rights of others. Part II discusses relational norms in law. I consider various constraints on the incorporation of relational norms in law, as well as the various relationships of correlativity that are sometimes said to define private law. I also consider the nature of legal rights to perform certain relational duties. I argue that although the duties are burdensome, these rights promote our interests, or at least are claimed to do so by legal officials. Part III considers the significance of relational norms to the general character of law. First I argue that we can have instrumental relationships - relationships that possess their value in virtue of some end that they serve. I then argue that any authoritative relationship that exists between legal officials and their subjects must be instrumentally justified.
Supervisor: Gardner, John Sponsor: University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy of law ; relational norms ; partiality ; relationships