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 4: The rule of law and the law of rules

David McIlroy


Legal positivism’s dissection of law from justice removed the life from the phenomenon it was examining. What was lost was an understanding of what exactly law’s claim about its relationship to justice is, why that claim is made, and the work which that claim is doing. Justice is integral to the interpretation, expression and critique of legal rules. Shallow justice is intrinsic to judicial decision-making, whether the application of the rule seems plain or contestable. Laws seek to implement conceptions of deep justice. True justice judges the rules and the conceptions of deep justice which they express. The freedom which law promises is important, but is best understood not as a separate good from justice. Governing by means of rules is about both giving subjects an area of immunity from the power of others and about obliging subjects to act in certain ways towards one another.

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