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Rapid scientific, medical and social developments necessitate a structure of legal regulation to deal with the hard cases that push established moral actions and principles into conflict. Such cases should not be resolved by expediency or according to majority opinion. Rather, the process of resolving such cases as well as the solutions themselves ought to respect and reflect the moral convictions of a pluralistic society. The search for common moral bonds between people sharing different ideological positions – religious and secular – is independent from the legal process, but it is integrally associated with it and can learn much from its example of resolving hard cases. Citizens accept the legal system that governs them to the extent that they believe its laws represents their interests and values, and to the extent that they believe they share some participatory access to the continuing development of those regulations. This is a way of saying that the law has legitimacy.3 Legitimacy does not imply that the system of law represents a situation of perfect justice, especially in a pluralistic society with divergent notions of justice. Yet legitimacy and respect for the law go hand-in-hand, whether we are referring to constitutional articles or local statutes. While legitimacy and the objective justice of the law are two different things, the effectiveness of the law depends upon a people’s conviction that the law reflects their fundamental moral convictions – or at least does not violate them.

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