Does Law 'Exist'? Eliminativism in Legal Philosophy


What is law? This foundational question in legal philosophy has been understood in a variety of ways. Most recently, it has begun to be interpreted as a question about the nature of law, answerable via conceptual analysis. I will argue here that that approach is a mistake. It leads to an impasse in our debates. We cannot resolve this question because the method adopted is unresponsive to experience. Intuitions are made primary, and participants in the debate are unable to sway one another via counterexamples, because any putative counterexample can simply be reclassified, such that it does not present an objection to the view. In light of these methodological problems, I argue in favour of what has come to be known as ‘eliminativism’ about law. We should abandon any talk of the nature of law and instead adopt conceptual pluralism in the pursuit of a range of different questions. I respond to a number of objections to the eliminativist approach, arguing that it is a viable position.


eliminativism, does law exist, what is law



Hillary Nye (University of Alberta)



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