Front Page Titles (by Subject) Law, Telos, and Authority - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2
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Law, Telos, and Authority - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Law, Telos, and Authority
“Law and Telos: Some Historical Reflections on the Nature of Authority.” University of British Columbia Law Review 12 (1978): 225–247.
Weisstub's concern is the doctrine of telos in jurisprudence, and not the relatively superficial version that calls attention to “the purposes of legal decisions according to the recognizable values upon which we found our rule-governed system of justice.” He seeks to set out the primary roots of a more profound version of telos, the doctrine that identifies “the source to which all beings and all laws aim.” His purpose is, in part, to draw attention to the dark side of telos, its alliance with assaults on human dignity, and its association with regressive moral legislation.
The ancient Greek pre-Socratics' conception of law and authority identifies laws with dispensing or distributing. Law as distribution is then linked to a cosmology where the ordering of the universe is dynamic—a process rather than an accomplished state—where the principles of order may be many rather than one, and also where authority may reside in many purposeful intelligences.
Some pre-Socratics combined speculative cosmology with more empirical and scientific modes of inquiry, and gave science and logic a role in the foundation of a theory of law. Plato and Aristotle relied on a conception of predetermined and organic purposive order. Platonic legal doctrine, because of its reliance on conceptions of geometric certainty, moved the theory of law closer to the abstract sciences. Plato's emphasis on universals, including rigid and abstract conceptions of human nature, generated an unchanging cosmology and a theory of authority that was “unscientific, anti-empirical and anti-democratic.”
Aristotle's mixture of the empirical and the speculative generated a hierarchical metaphysics as inimical to democracy as Plato's doctrines.
The Thomistic synthesis of Aristotelianism and Christianity is introduced by discussion of the Hebraic conceptions of authority and covenant. Like Aristotle, Aquinas held that in the universe there is a hierarchy of order; according to Aquinas, this order culminates “in the motionless and unchanging source of all authority in the personal Deity.” His conception of law is inseparable from Christianity and from the medievalist's teleological conception of science.
Weisstub does not describe explicitly what he takes to be the most important remnants or influences of telos on Western jurisprudence. Nor does he discuss Roman traditions of natural law.