Practical Reason in Law and Morality

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $31.16
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 68%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (5) from $31.16   
  • New (2) from $78.10   
  • Used (3) from $31.16   


The concept of practical reason is central to contemporary thought on ethics and the philosophy of law - acting well means acting for good reasons. Explaining this requires several stages. How do reasons relate to actions at all, as incentives and in explanations? What are values, how do they relate to human nature, and how do they enter practical reasoning? How do the concepts of 'right and wrong' fit in, and in what way do they involve questions of mutual trust among human beings? How does our moral freedom - our freedom to form our own moral commitments - relate to our responsibilities to each other? How is this final question transposed into law and legal commitments?

This book explores these questions, vital to understanding the nature of law and morality. It presents a clear account of practical reason, valuable to students of moral philosophy and jurisprudence at undergraduate or postgraduate levels. For more advanced scholars it also offers a reinterpretation of Kant's views on moral autonomy and Smith's on self-command, marrying Smith's 'moral sentiments' to Kant's 'categorical imperative' in a novel way.

The book concludes and underpins the author's Law, State and Practical Reason series.Taken together the books offer an overarching theory of the nature of law and legal reason, the role of the State, and the nature of moral reason and judgement.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The theory of law and practical reason offered in MacCormick's latest book constitutes an insightful approach through which to tackle some of the more debated issues in jurisprudence and practical philosophy today. Critical reflection on MacCormick's theory, thus, may indeed by the way to work toward an insightful treatment of reason applied to practical disputes."

- Stefano Bertea, Journal of Law and Society, Volume 23, No.3, 2009

"The book is clearly written in MacCormick's usual lucid and lively style avoiding technicalities, and a pleasure to read. Anyone having heard him lecture will sense his voice and be enlightened to think on the use of practical reason...MacCormick's account is a rewarding read and his message should be taken seriously by anyone interested in law and morality"

- Jes Bjarup, Natural Law, Practical Reason and Autonomous Persons, Archiv Fuer Rechts Und Sozialphilosophie 95.3

"...deserves a wider reading and could change the picture of legal positivism nowadays. It could be the case not only because of the valuable new insight into the old problems invoked in philosophical thoughts achieved by means of dialogue with the contemporary context of legal theory, but also because of the deepness, reflective and proactively original insight presented in MacComick's last book. I strongly recommend this book to every lawyer."

- Lidia Rodak, Silesian Journal of Legal Studies

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198268772
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2009
  • Series: Law, State, and Practical Reason Series
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Neil MacCormick, formerly Regius Professor Emeritus of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations in the University of Edinburgh

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Table of Cases

Introduction 1

1 Incentives and Reasons 5

2 Values and Human Nature 27

3 Right and Wrong 47

4 Questions of Trust 69

5 Autonomy and Freedom 89

6 Obedience, Freedom, and Engagement - or Utility? 105

7 Society, Property, and Commerce 123

8 On Justice 137

9 Using Freedom Well 155

10 Judging: Legal Cases and Moral Questions 171

11 Practical Reason, Law, and State 193

Index 211

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)