This conference was advertised as addressing the questions: “Is there a higher law?” and “Does it matter?” I would like to use my time on this occasion to deal with the latter question: Does it matter whether there is a higher law or not? I will lay my cards on the table at the outset and say that it matters and matters hugely. Now why would that be so?
Let us begin with the language of “higher” and “lower” and tone it down a bit. It is not particularly helpful without a lot of explanation. The basic issue underlying the distinction between higher and lower law is whether there is any point exterior to the law as a social process from which that process and its outcomes could be evaluated as justifiable or unjustifiable, correct or incorrect, or–bluntly–right or wrong.