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Legal Norms as Hypothetical Imperatives

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Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy
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Framing legal norms as hypothetical imperatives may be understood as two different propositions. On the one hand, it may presuppose a twofold proposition, that of (i) envisaging legal systems as conjunctions of legal norms (commands or imperatives issued by an imperator, the correlative of which are duties of the commanded subjects) and (ii) envisaging such commands as applying conditionally, i.e., to certain hypothetical behaviors of the commanded subjects, on given hypothetical state of affairs. On the other hand, it may presuppose conceiving all legal norms as including statements of practical necessity under a means-ends relation. In the latter sense, the ought to do or ought to be aspect of the legal commands – now seen as a technical ought, rather than the closely related deontic ought – is the thing required (the means) for the addressee to legally pursue some intended goal (the end). One should address these two main propositions separately.

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Correspondence to Pedro Moniz Lopes .

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Lopes, P.M. (2017). Legal Norms as Hypothetical Imperatives. In: Sellers, M., Kirste, S. (eds) Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy. Springer, Dordrecht.

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