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45 | 2021

  • Paulina Konca
  • Symposium on law and coercion

    Kenneth Einar Himma's Coercion and the Nature of Law (OUP 2020) is the second volume of the planned four volume series on the metaphysical nature of law. 

    The book’s focus is the defense of the Coercion Thesis, which states that for something to count as a legal system, as far as our conceptual practices are concerned, it is a necessary condition that it includes norms governing official behavior that authorize courts to impose coercive sanctions as a response to non-compliance with mandatory norms governing non-official behavior. Furthermore, the thesis is used to shed light on the problem of law’s normativity, understood as the capability of persuading rationally competent subjects to behave in a certain way.

    The methodological approach of the book, described by the author as “metaphysically driven conceptual analysis”, is based on Frank Jackson’s “modest” approach to conceptual analysis. Himma starts by identifying ordinary lexical meanings of the terms and proceeds to explain them. This amounts to cashing out the underlying assumptions about the metaphysical nature of the thing to which the term refers. For artifacts, which Himma maintains law is, this also includes specifying their conceptual function. 

     While the Coercion Thesis is historically not a radical view, it has received unfavorable treatment from some of the most influential modern philosophers, making Himma's sophisticated defense a worthwhile contribution to the discussion. A symposium in this issue of Revus contains seven comments in which Himma’s methodological assumptions and substantial conclusions are critically examined. These comments will be followed by the author’s response.   

  • Key papers

    Revusov kanon
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