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PROJECT TOPIC: ANALYSIS OF THE STRUCTURE AND COMPONENTS OF JOSEPH RAZ’S IDEA OF NORMATIVE SYSTEMS

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1  Background of the Study Norms and normative systems vary in their structure and components. This is simply because of the variations in postulations about how norms are structured, what components make up these structures and entire normative systems, as well as the extent to which norms and/or laws can be considered to be coercive. The most common conceptions of normative systems hold that they are coercive. The consequence, therefore, is that reason and reasons for actions (which are supposed to be considered to be primary components of any humane normative system) are rather not considered by most normative system theorists to the necessary determinants of the sense of obligation by the citizens of any society. Joseph Raz builds his ideal of a normative system around resolving the issue of balancing autonomy and authority. His case for this is directed chiefly against the anarchists1. Raz repudiates the philosophical anarchists by arguing that authority can be consistent with autonomy. In his introduction to his edited volume on authority, Raz wonders: “Can I not have absolute right to decide my own action while conceding an equal right to all? That is anarchy. But it may be that only anarchy avoids the problem of authority2.” He summarizes the problem as follows: “The duty to obey conveys an abdication of autonomy, that is, of the right and duty to be responsible for one’s action and to conduct oneself in the best light of reason. If there is an authority which is legitimate, then its subjects are duty bound to obey it whether they agree3 or not. Such a duty is inconsistent with autonomy, with the right and the duty to act responsibly, in the light of reason. This is the challenge of philosophical anarchism.” 4 The task, then, for Raz is to demonstrate that authority can be consistent with acting “in the bes t light of reason.” Following this, Raz goes ahead to give his criteria for the legitimacy of authority.


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