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The radical legalist paradox. The Sabatini’s paradox

We are going to show a paradox, which emerges from the position of the “radical legalist”. The core of the position is sustained from the conviction that the solution of moral problems consists in the application of legal laws, instead of an analysis of the moral terms. In other words, the moral laws doesn’t exist and, so, the moral terms hasn’t any significance. The position could be more precise: the principle idea is that the moral problems are unsolvable for a rational analysis, postulating that that analysis is impossible for the reason that is denied the existence of any rational law, both strong and weak formulation. The strong formulation of rational morality says that the reason can formulate valid moral laws; the weak formulation defend the idea that we can find an agreement (may be a reasonable agreement, may be not the expression of the reason in a strong sense), if the agreement is possible, then we can trust that there is a solution of the problem, may be not only one, but at least one. 

The position of the radical legalist (from now, only ‘legalist’) assumes the validity of this law:

(a) Any law is valid if and only if it is enrolled in a legal code of a real State.

So, we present belaw the argument against (a).

(b) If (a) is true, then (a) isn’t enrolled in a legal code of a real State, and, so, it isn’t a law of a legal code and it is invalid (because each law is valid only if is enrolled in a legal code). If (a) is enrolled in a legal code, then (a) itself was a law of a legal code. If this is true, the real formulation of (a) makes (a) itself empty, because we can reduce (a) in (a)*:

(a)* Any legal law is valid only if it is enrolled in a legal code.

The formulation of (a)* implies its validity, but, it is a tautology, and a tautology is a proposition without any meaning, even though it’s always true. So, (a)* is an empty law, and also a legalist must refuse it.

(c) If (b) is true, then (a) is not a law respect a legal code, but (a) is a law respect a moral code. This is a possible strategy for saving the position of the legalist, because he can say: “there is only one moral law, which implies only the validity of the legal rules. This law is (a)”. So, we must consider (a) as a moral law.

(d) If (a) is a moral law, as we presumed in (c), then either (a) is valid or is invalid. If (a) say the truth, then the law (a) is invalid because is not part of a legal code (the formulation of (a) itself implies the invalidity of (a) respect a legal code!: there is a sort of logical trick very similar to the Russell’s paradox). If (a) is false, then it exists at least a law that it is valid, even though it isn’t enrolled in a legal code and it may be the law (a) itself. But if it is true that (a) is false, then, it implies any laws, for the reason that we can deduce all proposition from the fake (in a classical logical approach, that we assume as valid for the standard arguments as this paradox). So, we have only two alternatives: if (a) it’s true, then it is invalid; if (a) is not enrolled in a legal code and it is a moral law, then it is false, and the fake implies any law. Anyone of this two possibilities are indefensible, and we must reject the radical legalist position as false.

I want to thank my old dear friend, Alessandro Sabatini, the best radical legalist never appeared in the world, who demonstrates that the power of logic argument is not invincible. I had the inspiration for this argument from Alessandro, and this paradox has his name.


Giangiuseppe Pili

Giangiuseppe Pili è Ph.D. in filosofia e scienze della mente (2017). E' stato assistant professor ed è il fondatore di Scuola Filosofica, coordinatore dell'associazione Azione Filosofica ed è il responsabile della collana dei libri di Scuola Filosofica. Egli è autore di numerosi saggi e di diversi articoli in riviste internazionali. In lingua italiana ha pubblicato numerosi lavori e libri. Scacchista per passione. ---- ENGLISH PRESENTATION ------------------------------------------------- Giangiuseppe Pili - PhD philosophy and sciences of the mind (2017). He is a former assistant professor in intelligence studies and he is the founder of Scuola Filosofica (Philosophical School) and the Co-Founder of the philosophical association Azione Filosofica (Philosophical Action). He is the editor in chief of the collective series of books based on the blog (Le Due Torri - Publisher). He is a prolific author nationally and internationally. He is a passionate chess player and (back in the days!) movie maker.

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