My comments on John Finnis's Natural Law and Legal Reasoning grow out my concern about the relationship of law to authoritarianism. In this comment, I do not intend to go deeply into the relationship of law to authoritarianism but rather to sketch out the background of the argument. It seems to me that authoritarianism, properly understood, is of great relevance to a symposium on jurisprudence and legal reasoning, because at a minimum, authoritarianism overlaps with legality's ethic of rule-following and obedience to authority. Authoritarian attitudes about authority and morality also are relevant to the jurisprudential concern with the relation of law to morality. Finally, authoritarianism is of particular concern to feminists because one of the most effective authoritarian systems throughout history has been that of patriarchy. In this comment, I first state what authoritarianism means, particularly in the context of law. I then assert that authoritarianism can and does lead to evil uses of law, and many common jurisprudential arguments are facilitative of authoritarianism. I then argue that some of Finnis's work lends itself to authoritarianism. I do not, however, think that law must of necessity be authoritarian, and I conclude by examining scholarship that I believe exemplifies an anti-authoritarian or humanistic view of law.


Natural Law Symposium: Natural Law and Legal Reasoning