Beckman, Ludvig | 2022
The Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence
Democratic theory tends to proceed on the assumption that law requires democratic legitimation because it is coercive. However, the claim that law requires democratic legitimation is distinct from claims about the nature of law. This paper takes issue with the notion that law is coercive by an exploration of three distinct understandings of the nature of law: the state-based conception of law, law as the rules of institutionalized normative systems, and law as social norms. Drawing on insights from legal and democratic theory, the paper defends the view that the ‘law’ to which democratic claims apply are the rules of conduct of institutionalized normative systems. Since rules that belong to such systems are found in associations beyond or below the level of the state, the scope of democratic participation is significantly wider than is usually recognized.