Legal Theory and the Inner Workings of a Doctrinal Discipline
What is law? There is no great mystery. It is a set of status functions. Human beings create these by making status function declarations. ‘It is an offence to…’, ‘In any action for damages…’, ‘The defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care if…’, and so on. Human beings maintain status functions by making further status function declarations and by using status function indicators. In law, these are wigs, gowns, gavels, forms of address, and so on. We do this because it increases our power. We get away with it only because others accept what we are doing in the sense of collective recognition. The status functions that constitute the law do so because they are collectively recognised as doing so - though there is no reason to think that this collective recognition is unified or stable. Some status functions may be recognised as law in some contexts and not in others. Nothing of any philosophical significance hangs on this, though it can become a matter of dispute in our courts.