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Book

Cover Understanding Jurisprudence
With a clear, engaging, and informal style, Understanding Jurisprudence is the perfect guide for students new to legal theory looking for a handy and stimulating starting point to this sometimes daunting subject. Key theories and theorists are introduced in a compact and practicable format, offering an accessible account of the central ideas without oversimplification. Further reading suggestions are included throughout, helping students to structure their research and navigate the jurisprudence’s extensive literature. Critical questions are also included in each chapter, to encourage students to think analytically about the law and legal theory, and the numerous debates that it generates. The author is an experienced teacher of jurisprudence and excels at providing a concise, student-friendly introduction to the subject, without avoiding the subtleties of this absorbing discipline. New to this, the book’s sixth edition, are: the most recent scholarship in several areas, including expanded discussions of theories of justice, globalization, and environmental protection, as well as a new section on judicial review and democracy. There are also updated suggested further reading lists and questions at the end of each chapter.

Chapter

Cover Understanding Jurisprudence

4. Modern legal positivism  

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.