Mgr Kamil Jesiołowski
University of Business and Administration in Gdynia
English abstract: The aim of this article is to present the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in cases concerning public morality, in the context of one of the most important debates in 20th century legal philosophy: the dispute between Patrick Devlin and Herbert L.A. Hart. In order to achieve this aim, I first describe the key theses defended by these scholars and explain the historical circumstances in which the debate arose. Then I analyse the most salient judgements passed by the ECtHR, which defined rules of the acceptable limitation of individual rights guaranteed by the European Human Rights Convention due to the moral norms existing in a society. I conclude that the reasoning adopted by the ECtHR in these cases resembles Devlin’s propositions to some extent. Furthermore, I claim that a reference to inherent and inalienable human dignity might be considered a sound solution in some doubtful cases in which moral problems or rights restrictions appear. Finally, I show that legal moralism, as a vein in the philosophy of law, has its adherents in contemporary science, too. However, the views presented by new legal moralists fundamentally differ from those postulated by Patrick Devlin in his time.
Keywords: Devlin, Hart, legal moralism, ECtHR judgments
Published: Number 1(22)/2020, pp. 37-51.
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