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H. L. A. Hart

Celebrated for their conceptual clarity, titles in the Clarendon Law Series offer concise, accessible overviews of major fields of law and legal thought. This Postscript attempts to reply to some of the criticisms urged by R. M. Dworkin in many of the seminal articles collected in his Taking Rights Seriously (1977) and A Matter of Principle (1985) and in his book Law's Empire (1986). The focus is on Dworkin's criticisms because he has not only argued that nearly all the distinctive theses of this book are radically mistaken, but he has called in question the whole conception of legal theory and of what it should do which is implicit in the book. The first part of the Postscript is concerned with Dworkin's arguments. The second part considers the claims of a number of other critics that, in the author's exposition of some of his theses, there are not only obscurities and inaccuracies but at certain points actual incoherence and contradiction.

Chapter

This chapter provides an introduction to legal reasoning. It first outlines the skills to analyse how judges decide cases. There are various points of view that judges can (and do) take in deciding the outcomes of cases, so the chapter introduces some of the theory behind judicial reasoning before moving on to show how judges reason in practice, how one case can give rise to multiple judgments, and the importance of legal ethics.

Chapter

This chapter provides an introduction to legal reasoning. It first outlines the skills to analyse how judges decide cases. There are various points of view that judges can (and do) take in deciding the outcomes of cases, so the chapter introduces some of the theory behind judicial reasoning before moving on to show how judges reason in practice, how one case can give rise to multiple judgments, and the importance of legal ethics.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the essential elements of Dworkin’s theory of law. It focuses on Dworkin’s assault on positivism and his insistence upon the close relationship between morals and the law. By denying the positivist separation between law and morals, he expounds a theory that rejects the proposition that judges either do or should make law, and contends instead that judges have an obligation to find and express ‘the soundest theory of law’ on which to decide hard cases; and concludes that, since judges (who are unelected officials) do not make law, the judicial role is democratic and prospective. His approach is based on the notion that only by adopting this view of the judicial function can the law take rights seriously.

Chapter

This chapter examines the important theory of legal positivism that has long dominated jurisprudence. It explains the core ideas of the theory, and then considers the leading proponents of classical legal positivism, especially the leading nineteenth century philosophers, Jeremy Bentham and John Austin. Bentham is best known as a utilitarian and law reformer, but he insisted on the separation between the ‘is’ and ‘ought’ of law, or what he preferred to call ‘expositorial’ and ‘censorial’ jurisprudence, respectively. Austin was equally emphatic in maintaining this distinction, but his analysis is generally regarded as much narrower in scope and objective than Bentham’s.

Chapter

This chapter examines the theories of the foremost legal positivists of the nineteenth century: Jeremy Bentham and John Austin. Bentham is best known as a utilitarian and law reformer, but who insisted on the separation between the ‘is’ and ‘ought’ of law, or what he preferred to call ‘expositorial’ and ‘censorial’ jurisprudence, respectively. Austin was equally emphatic in maintaining this distinction, but his analysis is generally regarded as much narrower in scope and objective than Bentham’s. A number of key concepts analysed by both of these theorists are examined and compared, including their definitions of law, commands, sovereignty, and sanctions.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the essential elements of Dworkin’s theory of law. It focuses on Dworkin’s assault on positivism. Dworkin denies the positivist separation between law and morals; rejects the proposition that judges either do or should make law; argues that judges must seek ‘the soundest theory of law’ on which to decide hard cases; and concludes that, since judges (who are unelected officials) do not make law, the judicial role is democratic and prospective. A central aspect of his theory is the importance of individual rights based on the idea that everyone is entitled to equal concern and respect. This leads him to analyse closely the concept of equality and its relation to liberty.

Chapter

H. L. A. Hart

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 examines the relations between law and morals. It analyses what lies between Natural Law and Legal Positivism. It considers, in the form of five truisms, the salient characteristics of human nature upon which the minimum content of Natural Law rests. These truisms are: human vulnerability, approximate equality, limited altruism, limited resources, and limited understanding and strength of will. The chapter concludes by examining six forms of the claim that there is some further way in which law must conform to morals beyond that which has been exhibited as the minimum content of Natural Law.

Chapter

This chapter explores the works of some of the leading exponents of contemporary legal positivism: H. L. A. Hart, Hans Kelsen, Joseph Raz, Jules Coleman, Scott Shapiro, and others. Hart staked out the borders of modern legal theory by applying the techniques of analytical (and especially linguistic) philosophy to the study of law. Kelsen may be the least understood and most misrepresented of all legal theorists. To the extent that he insisted on the separation of law and morals, what ‘is’ (sein) and what ‘ought to be’ (sollen), Kelsen may legitimately be characterized as a legal positivist, but he is a good deal more. Raz argues that the identity and existence of a legal system may be tested by reference to three elements: efficacy, institutional character, and sources. Thus, law is autonomous: we can identify its content without recourse to morality.

Chapter

This chapter explores the works of some of the leading exponents of contemporary legal positivism: HLA Hart, Hans Kelsen, Joseph Raz, Jules Coleman, Scott Shapiro, and others. Hart staked out the borders of modern legal theory by applying the techniques of analytical (and especially linguistic) philosophy to the study of law. Kelsen may be the least understood and most misrepresented of all legal theorists. To the extent that he insisted on the separation of law and morals, what ‘is’ (sein) and what ‘ought to be’ (sollen), Kelsen may legitimately be characterized as a legal positivist, but he is a good deal more. Raz argues that the identity and existence of a legal system may be tested by reference to three elements: efficacy, institutional character, and sources. Thus, law is autonomous: we can identify its content without recourse to morality.

Chapter

This chapter briefly discusses the nature of the international legal system. The premise is that the structure of the international legal system is fundamentally different from that of national legal order: contrary to the vertical structure encountered in domestic settings, in international law the structure is horizontal. States enjoy sovereign equality, while both international law-making and international adjudication are based on the consent of the States. There are various theories that have attempted to describe the nature of the international law, including naturalism, positivism, formalism, and realism. Also significant is the existence of a certain hierarchy in the international legal system, in the sense that there are some peremptory norms of international law, such as the prohibition of torture and genocide, to which there is no derogation.

Chapter

This chapter briefly discusses the nature of the international legal system. The premise is that the structure of the international legal system is fundamentally different from that of national legal order: contrary to the vertical structure encountered in domestic settings, in international law the structure is horizontal. States enjoy sovereign equality, while both international law-making and international adjudication are based on the consent of the States. There are various theories that have attempted to describe the nature of the international law, including naturalism, positivism, formalism, and realism. Also significant is the the existence of a certain hierarchy in the international legal system, in the sense that there are some peremptory norms of international law, such as the prohibition of torture and genocide, to which there is no derogation.