Front Page Titles (by Subject) Are Legal Norms Universally Valid? - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1982, vol. 5, No. 1
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Are Legal Norms Universally Valid? - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1982, vol. 5, No. 1 
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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Are Legal Norms Universally Valid?
‘Normative Cogencies’ in the Constitution of Justice. Vera Lex (Natural Law Society Review) 3 (Winter/Spring 1982): 1, 12–13.
The late Professor Tammelo asks whether norms of justice exist that are universal for all legal systems. After examining a number of norms sometimes claimed to be “systems-invariant” (such as “Whatever is legally not forbidden is legally permitted”), he concludes that there are no such norms. However, there are formal (analytic or tautological) norms of justice that are immensely useful for “enabling us to carry out articulation of normative thoughts.”
The search for morally normative universals continues. Accordingly, some norms with material content Tammelo believes are “intuitively so obvious that their refutation does not come into question.” These norms depend upon our experience of nature. “...there are indeed experiences whose content imposes itself on our cognition as irrefutable at all times. Their insightfulness, however is not apriori but is grounded in our civilization.”
These compelling norms of justice have a close connection with the postulate of human dignity as a demand for what man decently ought to do. We feel that we cannot lead our lives as moral agents without respecting such norms.
Professor Tammelo believes that the intuitive obviousness of such norms rests to some extent on their general wording (as in the precept: “Do good and avoid evil”). These norms need to be spelled out in their specifics to mean something definite. He also believes that the postulates of freedom and of equality are criteria of justice, “but there are occasions on which freedom can be granted only by sacrificing equality and vice versa.”
Prof. Tammelo, in his search for more satisfactory criteria of universal justice, points to the promise of “the emerging discipline of constructive linguistics” which he believes may provide us with a language that will allow “complete and well comprehensible formulations of the criteria of justice.” He looks forward to such a “translinguistic” means of communication.