The essence of law according to Michel Villey


  • Stéphane Bauzon Università degli studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”



Michel Villey, right, juridical realism, subjective right, human rights


Following Aristotle’s example, the legal philosopher Michel Villey (1914-1988) holds that the right is discovered in the real things existent in our world. Villey does not deny the role of the laws in the discovery of the juridical domain. In his view, juridical norms are subsidiary for the jurist. Villey’s legal-philosophical thought represents a significant contribution to the grasping of the importance of the juridical-philosophical research on the relation between factual states of affairs and the positive law. In coherence with his critique of the general character of the natural law, Villey does not resort to an explanation of human rights when these are considered to be founded in an abstract conception of human nature. In Villey’s view, right is the result of the confrontation between legal texts and the natural ends of the social organization, between the application of positive right and its foundations in natural right. Natural right is conceived as extracted from nature, it is accessible to the human mind independently from their religions convictions. The right is not an attribute of the personal subject, it does not derive exclusively from the will or from conventions. In order to grasp juridical realism, one has to exit the realm of abstractions manifested in the idea of subjective right.