Normative theories of law

In addition to the question, "What is law?," legal philosophy is also concerned with normative theories of law. What is the goal or purpose of law? What moral or political theories provide a foundation for the law? Three approaches have been influential in contemporary moral and political philosophy, and these approaches are reflected in normative theories of law: Utilitarianism is the view that the laws should be crafted so as to produce the best consequences. Historically, utilitarian thinking about law is associated with the great philosopher, Jeremy Bentham. In contemporary legal theory, the utilitarian approach is frequently championed by scholars who work in the law and economics tradition. Deontology is the view that the laws should protect individual autonomy, liberty, or rights. The philosopher Immanuel Kant formulated a deontological theory of law (but not the only possible). A contemporary deontological approach can be found in the work of the legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin. Aretaic moral theories such as contemporary virtue ethics emphasize the role of character in morality. Virtue jurisprudence is the view that the laws should promote the development of virtuous characters by citizens. Historically, this approach is associated with Aristotle. Contemporary virtue jurisprudence is inspired by philosophical work on virtue ethics. There are many other normative approaches to the philosophy of law, including critical legal studies and libertarian theories of law. Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, specifically defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering. Classic utilitarianism, as advocated by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, is hedonistic. It is now generally taken to be a form of consequentialism, although when Anscombe first introduced that term it was to distinguish between "old-fashioned Utilitarianism" and consequentialism. According to utilitarianism the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome although there is debate over how much consideration should be given to actual consequences, foreseen consequences and intended consequences. Two influential contributors to this theory are Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. In A Fragment on Government Bentham says Сit is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrongТ and describes this as a fundamental axiom. In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation he talks of Сthe principle of utilityТ but later prefers Уthe greatest happiness principle." Utilitarianism can be characterized as a quantitative and reductionist approach to ethics. It is a type of naturalism. It can be contrasted with deontological ethics, which does not regard the consequences of an act as a determinant of its moral worth; virtue ethics, which primarily focuses on acts and habits leading to happiness; pragmatic ethics; as well as with ethical egoism and other varieties of consequentialism. Utilitarianism has often been considered the natural ethic of a democracy operating by simple majority without protection of individual rights.