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This may be a vague question so I'll provide some context. For example, Kyle's response here seems to imply that legal matters aren't philosophical matters.

I've also seen some responses where it said that the answer lies in the philosophy of law -- whatever that means.

asked Apr 25 '12 at 03:15

Humbug's gravatar image


The difference between the science of philosophy and the special sciences is succinctly described by Ayn Rand in her article, "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" -- published in her book by the same title (PWNI). The key passage is excerpted in The Ayn Rand Lexicon under the topic of "Philosophy":

Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible.

Next, the difference between the philosophy of law and other special sciences is well described in Wikipedia under the topic of "Jurisprudence":

Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists (including legal philosophers and social theorists of law), hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions.

Ayn Rand mentions "philosophy of law" in Atlas Shrugged in two different places that I know of. Part II Chapter VII, "The Moratorium on Brains," describes one of the looters' victims as follows:

Dave Mitchum knew nothing about the philosophy of law; but he knew that when a court is not bound by any rules, it is not bound by any facts, and then a hearing is not an issue of justice, but an issue of men, and your fate depends not on what you have or have not done, but on whom you do or do not know.

In Part III Chapter I, "Atlantis," Judge Narragansett describes his activities in the Valley:

I am writing a treatise on the philosophy of law. I shall demonstrate that humanity's darkest evil, the most destructive horror machine among all the devices of men, is non-objective law.

There is also a good excerpt on the philosophy of law in Letters of Ayn Rand, p. 559, discussing punishment for crimes. Another discussion can be found in OPAR, p. 355, regarding the validation of specific rights (as in the Bill of Rights) in relation to the fundamental rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. For more on objective law, refer to OPAR, pp. 364-366. For a very concrete example of non-objective law, refer to the topic of "Antitrust Laws" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.

answered Apr 28 '12 at 01:49

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Apr 25 '12 at 03:15

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Last updated: Apr 28 '12 at 01:49