Elephants and Flashlights

On Martin on Raz


  • André L. S. Coelho Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais




Joseph Raz, Margaret Martin, adjudication, legal exclusive positivism


The paper responds to some of Margaret Martin’s criticisms of Joseph Raz’s legal theory in her book Judging Positivism, especially the alleged change in Raz’s account of adjudi-cation and its potential negative impact on Raz’s legal theory. To that end, I treat Raz’s theory in particular, and analytic legal theories in general, as providing a picture of what law would be like if it were fully determined by certain aspects rather than revealing essential aspects of what law is. In this sense, legal theories are compared, as in the famous Indian parable, to blind men trying to describe what an elephant is, a comparison that is later completed by the idea of the periodic rotation of a lantern, which illuminates each time a different aspect of the animal.


Hart, H.L.A., 1994: The Concept of Law. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Martin, Margaret, 2014: Judging Positivism. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Raz, Joseph, 1995: Ethics in the Public Domain: Essays in the Morality of Law and Politics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

__________, 2002: Practical Reason and Norms, third ed. New York: Oxford University Press.



How to Cite

Coelho, A. L. S. (2021). Elephants and Flashlights: On Martin on Raz. Isonomía - Revista De teoría Y filosofía Del Derecho, (55). https://doi.org/10.5347/isonomia.v0i55.491



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