Conflicts of Law and Morality


Conflicts of Law and Morality



Powerful emotion and pursuit of self-interest have many times led people to break the law with the belief that they are doing so with sound moral reasons. This study, a comprehensive philosophical and legal analysis of the gray area in which the foundations of law and morality clash, views these oblique circumstances from two perspectives: that of the person who faces a possible conflict between the claims of morality and law and must choose whether or not to obey the penal code; and that of the people who make and uphold laws and must decide whether to treat someone with a moral claim to disobey differently from ordinary lawbreakers. In examining the extent of the obligations owed by citizens to their government, Greenawalt concentrates on the possible existence of a single source of obligation that reaches all citizens and all laws. He also discusses techniques of amelioration of punishment for conscientious lawbreakers, asking how far legal systems should go to accommodate individuals who break the law for reason of conscience. Drawing from numerous examples of conflicts between law and morality, Greeawalt illustrates in detail the positions and predicaments of potential lawbreakers and lawmakers alike.



Publication Date



Oxford University Press


New York, NY


"His rich analysis lays out a wide spectrum of cases and choices with great sensitivity to the texture of moral conflict.... One of the glories of the book is the cornucopia of cases, clear hypotheticals, and variations on them with which he deals."

"[A] large and comprehensive work. No facet of the conflicts between law and morality is left unexamined.... Numerous excellent works by other authors exist on the subjects of this book's individual chapters, but I know of no book that is as good a guide to the whole area."
Michigan Law Review

"A rich survey of the many issues that can arise when the positive law and morality provide conflicting guidance to citizens and officials."
Canadian Philosophical Review

"[An] informative and original book.... Greenawalt's achievement in his use and variety of illustrations is singularly impressive and illuminating."
University of Toronto Law Journal


Also available as an eBook through the Columbia University Libraries.


Arts and Humanities | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Law and Philosophy | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility | Philosophy | Political Science | Political Theory | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Conflicts of Law and Morality

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