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H.L.A. Hart, Second Edition$
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Neil MacCormick

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804756785

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804756785.001.0001

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date: 21 October 2021

Hart's Conception of Law

Hart's Conception of Law

(p.31) Chapter Three Hart's Conception of Law
H.L.A. Hart, Second Edition
Stanford University Press

H. L. A. Hart's jurisprudence is detailed in his book, The Concept of Law. This book describes a legal system as a system of social rules that belong to a general class encompassing other types of rule such as rules of morality and rules of manners and etiquette. Social rules are like moral rules in the sense that they are concerned with “obligations” or “duties.” Unlike moral rules, however, they have a systemic quality depending on the interrelationship of two kinds of rules: “primary rules” and “secondary rules.” In addition to primary rules of obligation and secondary rules of adjudication and change, every legal system also includes what Hart calls a “rule of recognition.” Hart considers himself a legal positivist, rejecting the tenets of “natural law” theorizing as propounded by thinkers ranging from Aristotle to John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and John Finnis. One important point to make about Hart's legal positivism concerns the relative indeterminacy of social rules and thus also of legal rules.

Keywords:   H. L. A. Hart, law, jurisprudence, The Concept of Law, social rules, morality, legal positivism, legal rules, obligations, rule of recognition

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