Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



The paper considers the main arguments against the possibility that basic normative principles can change, and finds them wanting. The principal argument discussed derives from the claim that normative considerations are intelligible, and therefore that they can be explained, and their explanations presuppose the prior existence of basic normative principles. The intelligibility thesis is affirmed but the implication that basic change is impossible is denied. Subsumptive explanations are contrasted with explanations by analogy. Later in the paper, other objections are considered more briefly: that normative properties are queer, that they are unconnected to the rest of reality, and therefore cannot play an explanatory role, etc.


Law | Law and Philosophy | Public Law and Legal Theory