The End of Law
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The End of Law

How Law’s Claims Relate to Law’s Aims

David McIlroy

The End of Law applies Augustine’s questions to modern legal philosophy as well as offering a critical theory of natural law that draws on Augustine’s ideas. McIlroy argues that such a critical natural law theory is: realistic but not cynical about law’s relationship to justice and to violence, can diagnose ways in which law becomes deformed and pathological, and indicates that law is a necessary but insufficient instrument for the pursuit of justice. Positioning an examination of Augustine’s reflections on law in the context of his broader thought, McIlroy presents an alternative approach to natural law theory, drawing from critical theory, postmodern thought, and political theologies in conversation with Augustine.
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Chapter 2: What on Earth are we talking about?

David McIlroy


Law is the practice of issuing general or generalizable rules justified by reference to an account of justice. Such rules enable law’s subjects to know how they are expected to behave and how they can expect others to behave. Such rules discipline violence, by prohibiting the use of force in contravention of the rules and by authorising the use of force to enforce the rules. Such rules set a framework for resolving disputes. Law’s claim to refer to justice is intrinsic to those functions of law. Justice is a complex concept. Shallow justice is the justice which is immanent to a legal system, existing to the extent to which the rules are applied predictably and consistently. Deep justice describes the sense of how people deserve to be treated which underlies the rules of a legal system. True justice is objective moral order, without which justice is not justice but power.

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