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Critique of classic legal positivism: habit and reasons

Do we follow law just because we have a habit of doing so? Dr Ken Ehrenberg explains one critique of command theory.

One critique of command theory comes from thinking about the difference between habit and reasons. Do we follow law just because we have a habit of doing so, or do we follow it because the fact that it is a law gives us a reason to follow it?

Can the threat of force itself be a reason to follow the law? If you treat the threat of force as a reason for following the law, then it is the threat not the law acting as your reason for following it. If you knew you could avoid the punishment, you wouldn’t have any reason left to follow the law. Instead, the law itself is supposed to be a reason.

Watch the video to find out more. In the next step you will answer a poll question to test out your existing views on habit, reasons, and the law, and compare your response to other learners.

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Jurisprudence: Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

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