Essays in jurisprudence and philosophy (1983)

H.L.A. Hart | English philosopher, teacher, and author |

In the early s he became a professor of jurisprudence at Oxford and a fellow of University College. He later served —78 as principal of Brasenose College. Hart is best known for his contributions to legal philosophy generally and to legal positivism specifically. He acknowledged his intellectual debts to his positivist predecessors Jeremy Bentham and John Austin , he severely criticized their theories for obscuring the normative dimension of law i. At the same time, he emphasized that the normativity of law is not necessarily moral; throughout his jurisprudential work, he maintained a legal-positivist insistence on the separability of law and morality.

Instant Bibliography and Recommended Reading

In his classic book The Concept of Law , and in a number of essays written approximately contemporaneously, he presented a hugely influential account of the ways in which different types of norms combine to form the structure of a legal system. Under the prevailing rule of recognition in a jurisdiction, legal officials are both authorized and obligated to follow specific criteria in determining which norms possess the status of laws.

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Those criteria typically fix upon familiar sources of law such as legislative enactments or adjudicative rulings or administrative regulations or constitutional provisions. Although The Concept of Law is principally a work of legal philosophy, it contains some important discussions of topics in political and moral philosophy.

Although the principle of fair play has often come under attack in the decades since Hart fleetingly propounded it, the theory continues to be espoused by some present-day political philosophers. He wrote in the liberal tradition of English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill in arguing that homosexual intercourse between consenting adults should not be legally proscribed.

In particular, the mere fact that certain sexual practices cause offense to some people who are aware of their occurrence does not constitute harm of any kind that would render legitimate the prohibition of those practices. Other notable works include Essays on Bentham —during his closing years as an active scholar, Hart devoted much of his time to editing and interpreting Bentham—and Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy In several writings in those volumes, Hart made noteworthy contributions to debates over the nature of rights and justice.

Later work

Hart further exhibited his liberal allegiances in his analysis of the nature of rights. He contended that the holding of a legal right by any person P always involves the vesting of P with legal powers to waive or demand the enforcement of the legal duty that is correlated with the right.

Hart adopted this analysis precisely because he believed that no alternative conception of right holding would capture the role of rights in enabling individual self-determination. His account of rights, like his other political stances, was grounded on liberal values. You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. Info Print Print.

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