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14 Law & Phil. 1 (1995)

handle is hein.journals/lwphil14 and id is 1 raw text is: INTRODUCTION

With this special issue of Law and Philosophy, we honor the memory
of Conrad D. Johnson, who died suddenly and unexpectedly, in
the prime of his philosophical career. From the time he was
a graduate student in the late 1960s until his death in 1992,
Johnson thought with penetration and focus about the inter-
relations between law and morality. Perhaps no one did more
during this period to illustrate, as he put it, the ways in which
moral reasoning has benefited, and might be made more con-
sciously to benefit, from ideas that are at root essentially legal in
Struck, in his first year of graduate school, by Hart's remark
that Hare's moral theory represented an excessively Protestant
approach, Johnson became convinced that much contemporary
ethical philosophy had failed to appreciate the importance of
custom, practice, and, especially, law to an understanding of
morality. Even rule-utilitarian theories (as advanced by his teacher
Richard Brandt), gave no intrinsic right-making weight to estab-
lished practice and institutional process. According to ideal rule
utilitarianism, right and wrong depend on the requirements of rules,
the general teaching of which would have the best consequences.
Johnson came to the view that while the consequences of a rule
or practice (compared to those of alternative possible rules) are
relevant to whether it should be followed, they are not determi-
native. Moral rules are collective strategies for achieving beneficial
consequences, not the least of which is mutual trust. And this
requires giving weight to established common practice in moral
reasoning. Accordingly, he concluded, right and wrong (in a given
social context) are determined by established rules, so long as their
consequences are better than what could be achieved by trying
to promote the good individually.

Law and Philosophy 14: 1-3, 1995.
C 1995 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

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