Legal Studies and Business Ethics Papers

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Nomos LIX: Compromise

Start Page


Last Page



The process of crafting and passing legislation might be thought to be the locus of compromise par excellence.1 Yet, where the law that results impinges upon moral or religious belief or practice, the issue of compromise arises anew, in both senses of the word: Individuals who oppose the law on moral or religious grounds believe that their political obedeience will compromise them in a fundamental way. Their plea for an exemption from the objectionable legal requirement is, then, a bid for further compromise.2 Compromise in the first sense concerns an undercutting of the self, while compromise in the second sense involves a grant of concessions. Yet, unlike compromises that arise in the legislative process, or at least in some ideal version of it,3 the compromise involved in an exemption from a neutral law of general application involves neither an exchange of benefits nor the prospect of mutual benefit-two hallmarks of compromise in, say, political (and other) negotiations.4 There are several reasons to doubt the wisdom or fairness of the requested exemptions, then.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Originally published in Nomos LIX: Compromise © 2018 NYU Press. Reproduced with permission.



Date Posted: 25 October 2018