Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Obligation and modality
Author: Currie, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
This thesis investigates the structure of legal obligation. Each essay in it defends, more or less directly, the claim that legal obligation has a normal modal logic: this logic is classical and guarantees that whatever follows from what is legally obligatory is itself legally obligatory. Knowing what follows from our legal obligations, and so knowing their logic, matters whether we care about obeying the law or avoiding the coercive power of the state. Essay 1 defends the inference scheme of deontic explosion, which says that conflicting obligations entail any obligation at all. The logic of legal obligation is normal only if it validates this scheme, which is standardly assumed to be absurd. But deontic explosion for legal obligation is not absurd. The scheme shows that the law effectively gives up on guiding our action as soon as any of our legal obligations conflict. Essay 2 defends the classicality of the logic of legal obligation. Some dialetheists claim that legal obligations can be inconsistent: the same action can be both legally obligatory and not legally obligatory. These dialetheists assume that the semantic or asserted content of a legislature’s enactment is the law. But the law controls the interpretation of its own instruments: the legal content of an enactment is the law. Inconsistencies in legislation give no reason to doubt classicality since such inconsistencies are resolved by standard legal principles. Moreover, the law assumes the impossibility of inconsistent legal obligations when determining rights and duties. Essay 3 evaluates perspectivalism, which holds that legal obligations amount to claims by the law about moral obligations. This popular view is committed to a theoretically unnecessary distinction between strong and weak legal-deontic modalities. It also entails that the law implausibly claims that it doesn’t claim what it doesn’t claim. Atomism, which denies that legal obligation can be resolved into more fundamental modalities, suffers from neither of these difficulties.
Supervisor: Williamson, Timothy ; Endicott, Timothy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available