School of Law

CLSGC New Book Symposium: Noam Gur's Legal Directives and Practical Reasons

10 April 2019

Time: 4:00 - 7:00pm
Venue: Room 313, School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS London

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The Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context is delighted to host a book symposium on our deputy-director's Dr Noam Gur's new book, Legal Directives and Practical Reasons

Dr Gur will introduce the book, and this will be followed by three comments from:

The event has been organised by Dr Maks Del Mar, and will be chaired by Dr Isobel Roele. 

About the Book

This book investigates laws interaction with practical reasons. What difference can legal requirements - be they traffic rules, tax laws, work safety regulations, or others - make to normative reasons relevant to our action? Do they give reasons for action that should be weighed among all other reasons? Or can they, instead, exclude and take the place of some other reasons? The book critically examines some of the existing answers and puts forward an alternative account of the relation between law and practical reasons.

At the outset, two competing positions are pitted against each other: first, the view taken by Joseph Raz, that when the law satisfies certain conditions that endow it with legitimate authority, it acquires pre-emptive force, namely it constitutes reasons for action that exclude and take the place of some other reasons; second, an antithetical position, according to which legal requirements cannot exclude otherwise applicable reasons, but can at most provide us with reasons that operate, and compete with opposing reasons, in terms of their weight.

These two positions are examined from several perspectives, such as justified disobedience cases, law's conduct-guiding function, and the phenomenology associated with authority. It is found that, although each of the above positions offers insight into the relation between law and practical reasons, they both suffer from significant flaws. These observations lay the basis on which, in the final part of the book, an alternative position is put forward and defended. On this position, the existence and operation of a reasonably just and well-functioning legal system constitutes some reasons that are neither ordinary reasons for action nor pre-emptive ones, but rather reasons to adopt an (overridable) disposition that inclines its possessor towards compliance with the system's requirements.

About the Author 

Noam Gur is a lecturer in law at Queen Mary University of London. He specializes in jurisprudence and legal theory, and has further research interests in political theory and in tort law. He previously held a post-doctoral position at the University of Oxford, where he also earned his doctorate and master's degrees in law. He obtained his first degree in law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, after which he clerked at the Supreme Court of Israel and worked as a lawyer in a private firm.