Page:Yale Law Journal - Volume 27.pdf/30

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YALE LAW JOURNAL

always be known, than to say iron is hard to one who is trying to learn how iron may be known. In other words, such a definition merely changes the question from what features are common to all rules of law, to what features are common to all rules of civil conduct. While most persons will agree that law is intended to promote justice, there is, as has already appeared, no consensus of opinion as to the test to determine when a law is just, or as to the yardstick to determine right from wrong. While I think the test is to be found in the opinion of the majority, many think it is to be found outside of human experience. I shall attempt, however, to show that this standard is subjective, or to be found in the consciousness of the lawmakers, and that those laws and those only that tend to promote the welfare of the community as distinguished from that of particular individuals are just. If this view is sound, there are as many standards and sources of justice as systems of law; for in this view of the matter, each community evolves its own ideals and makes laws to effectuate them. As each community evolves its own ideals, each must have its own standard of right and wrong; for that standard, in so far as any particular community is concerned, is equal to the sum of its ideals. If, however, the standard were objective, every community would have the same standard of right and wrong; for if it were objective it would be a fact, in the same way gravity is a fact, that could be found, and the results it would produce in a given situation could be discovered and stated in the same way the effects that heat, light or sound will produce have been discovered and stated. In short, if the standard of justice is objective, it can be discovered, and the effects it will produce in any given situation can be stated with approximate accuracy, not only by judges, but by anyone who possesses the necessary skill and will take the trouble to make the necessary investigation. All fair-minded men will, I think, agree that that cannot be done, for if it could, public ideals would not change, and each generation would think the same thoughts as all those which preceded it. And it would be true that law is intended to find a place for everyone and to keep him in it; or rather, that it is intended to hold society together in the same way gravity holds the universe together. In short, unless mind is as inert as matter, there can be no objective standard of justice. Since this is so, a definition of law cannot include any features peculiar to the content of all rules of law; for if laws are made to effectuate their makers’