December 15, 2016

Ng on Analytical Jurisprudence in the Age of Naturalized Ethics

Alina Ng, Mississippi College School of Law, is publishing Picking at Morals: Analytical Jurisprudence in the Age of Naturalized Ethics in volume 25 of the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal (2017). Here is the abstract.
Morality in analytical jurisprudence has always assumed a metaphysical and theoretical character. As morality and the law are connected in distinctive ways, morality plays a pivotal role in one’s understanding of the concept of law. Thus far, we have taken moral norms as providing a reliable measure of right and wrong actions. But the naturalization of ethics in moral philosophy has introduced research findings from the natural sciences which suggest that morality is far more nuanced and varied than we have come to assume. Some moral norms, evolutionary biology has shown us, have less to do with propriety, righteousness, or civility, and more to do with developed biological responses to our surrounding environment. Other moral norms emerged because of political reasons rather than rectitude. This paper argues that we should consider seriously these new findings about our moral psychology in the conceptualization of law in analytical jurisprudence. Morality, if it is an unreliable source of good conscience, cannot and should not be used to provide laws with the normative force it needs to justify the imposition of obligations or to govern with legitimate authority. Until neuroscientists and developmental psychologist are able to determine with some definiteness how our capacity for moral decisions functions and establish morality as a universal feature of humankind, we need to be cautious in how much faith we place on morality as a standard setting norm to separate right from wrong.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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