Ezequiel Monti (Universidad Torcuato di Tella)

Triggering Reason-Giving and Exclusive Legal Positivism

5 October 2020 | 12:00 EST | 17:00 BST

David Enoch has recently defended exclusive legal positivism against the charge that it cannot account for the normativity of law. In a nutshell, the argument is that reasons can only be given by way of triggering and that just about anything can trigger reasons, including those social facts that, according to exclusive legal positivism, exclusively determine the content of law. Here I turn this argument on its head. I shall argue that, if it were true that sources of law can give reasons only by triggering, then that would be a strong reason to adopt a non-positivist view about the grounds of law. The only way to escape this conclusion is to reject legal rationalism, that is, the claim that having a legal obligation to f implies having a reason to f. But we should not abandon legal rationalism. Thus, if one wants to remain an exclusive legal positivist, one should reject the triggering only hypothesis.

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