Levinasian Ethics and Legal Obligation

Jonathan Crowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper discusses the implications of the ethical theory of Emmanuel Levinas for theoretical debates about legal obligation. I begin by examining the structure of moral reasoning in light of Levinas's account of ethics, looking particularly at the role of the “third party” (le tiers ) in modifying Levinas's primary ethical structure of the “face to face” relation. I then argue that the primordial role of ethical experience in social discourse, as emphasised by Levinas, undermines theories, such as that of H. L. A. Hart, that propose a systematic distinction between legal and moral species of obligation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-433
JournalRatio Juris
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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