Fuller Morality of Law - Jurisprudence

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Much of the 18th and 19th century’s jurisprudence field was ruled by the positivist school of thought - unseating the natural law theories of the time, with its clear separation of law and morality coupled with empirical methods. The 20th century however, saw a huge of interest again in the natural law theory. American legal philosopher, Lon Fuller who was “an outsider within the intellectual climate of mid-twentieth century legal philosophy” today, stands as “the leading natural lawyer” at the forefront of it. However, despite seeming to conform to natural law thinkers, Nicholson claims that Fuller’s “natural law terminology should not be allowed to obscure his originality”. He eschews the Christian doctrines normally present in natural law, and instead presents a more procedural approach to marry the ideas of morality and law. This essay will explore his claims - namely the “internal morality of law”, its moral authority and also further the argument that posits the inherent intertwine of law and morality is correct and necessary as the first line of defence against evil regimes and as a check and balance to ensure government accountability.

Fuller’s Internal Morality of Law For context, it’s worth noting what Fuller believes as the purpose of law - that it is a purposive “enterprise of subjecting human conduct to the governance of rules”. Fuller begins by introducing two types of moralities - the morality of duty and aspiration. He describes the two using “an imaginary scale” that “starts at the bottom with the most obvious and essential moral duties and ascends upward to the highest achievement open to man”. Simply put, the morality of duty requires fulfillment as the minimum whereas that of aspiration only requires one to aspire to such moralities. The internal morality of law, Fuller claims “embraces [both] morality of duty and …of aspiration” - where the…...

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