Nicole Roughan on ‘Why Authority?’

Room 2010, Osgoode Hall Law School, Ignat Kaneff Building

Why Authority?

A pluralist turn in jurisprudence, to encompass phenomena such as transnational law, indigenous law, customary law, religious law, and international law, must grapple with a number of core building blocks that legal theorists take to be central to their field. Ideas about institutions, normativity, coercion, reasoning, jurisdiction and authority have all been subjected to pluralist challenges and revision. In this paper I defend the centrality, to pluralist jurisprudence, of the idea of authority, which, alone among concepts of control, captures not only a distinctive normative power, but also a role – and indeed an embodied role – in which some persons are both recognized and charged with special powers and duties. The duality of authority as a role and a power, and its responsiveness to both reasons and recognition, renders it pivotal to not simply conceptualizing pluralist jurisprudence, but also implementing the practices of legal plurality.
Nicole Roughan is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore and Deputy Director of the NUS Law Centre for Legal Theory. Her primary research interests are in jurisprudence, and in particular pluralist jurisprudence, where she specializes in philosophy of indigenous, international, and transnational law as well as their relations to state law. Nicole’s publications in this field include Authorities: Conflicts, Cooperation and Transnational Legal Theory (Oxford, 2013) and Nicole Roughan and Andrew Halpin (eds) In Pursuit of Pluralist Jurisprudence (Cambridge, 2017 forthcoming). Nicole is currently working on a new monograph, Officials, to be published by Oxford. In 2017 she was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship from the Royal Society Te Apārangi (New Zealand) to pursue a project on ‘Jurisprudence without Borders.’
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