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Yale Journal of Law and Liberation. Volume 1 (1989), p. 17-30.


Any legal or political theory is a theory about 'the good life'. It is nonsensical to talk of law or politics outside of a social context, or to discuss a social framework separate from its laws or politics. Law, politics and societies are inextricably linked, each helps to define and constitute the others. By striving to provide an account of the terms and conditions of collective and individual life in a social group, the legal or political theorist cannot avoid the abiding and central conundra of human existence – what is the proper and best way to live? How are we to live together? Any legal or political theory worth its normative salt addresses these questions directly and attempts to offer. cogent answers, Consequently, a primary and inescapable issue for political and legal theory is not whether an idea of 'the good life' is relevant to the theoretical project, but what that idea is to consist of, and what weight it is to have in thinking about and criticizing legal and political practice.

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