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The Concept of Law

The Concept of Law (3rd edn)

HLA Hart, Joseph Raz, and Penelope A. Bulloch
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date: 01 October 2023

II. Laws, Commands, and Orderslocked

II. Laws, Commands, and Orderslocked

  • H. L. A. HartH. L. A. Hartlate Professor of Jurisprudence, Principal of Brasenose College, and Fellow of University College, University of Oxford


Celebrated for their conceptual clarity, titles in the Clarendon Law Series offer concise, accessible overviews of major fields of law and legal thought. This chapter first considers the use of imperative forms of language in social situations. It explains why the notion of a command cannot be used in the elucidation of law. It then discusses law as coercive order, and argues that wherever there is a legal system, there must be some persons or body of persons issuing general orders backed by threats which are generally obeyed, and that it must be generally believed that these threats are likely to be implemented in the event of disobedience.

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