The Concept of Law

by H. L. A. Hart

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 341

The Concept of Law by H.L.A Hart is one of the most influential works of the 20th century on the subject of law. It's a work of nonfiction and does not have characters that one may expect from a novel or a play. However, it mentions people who have contributed to the development of legal philosophy.

Thomas Hobbes is regarded as the father of legal positivism. Hart invokes Hobbes to try and understand the difference between the authority of a legislator and powers invested in him to enforce law.

John Austin is remembered for putting forth The Imperative Theory of Law, which stipulates that a law is a law only if it can be enforced.

Jeremy Bentham opposed the concept of Natural Law and propagated the philosophy of Utilitarianism. He coined the term "International Law."

John Stuart Mill was devoted to the ideas propounded by Bentham. His essay, Utilitarianism, postulates that actions that lead to happiness are desirable.

Ronald Dworkin was the author of Taking Rights Seriously and A Matter of Principle. He was a consistent critic of Hart's theses on law.

Hans Kelsen was an Austrian jurist who propounded the concept of the pure theory of law, which was free from all religious and political influences.

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, the founder of the Peripatetic School of Philosophy. He viewed justice as being a tool for ensuring a balance between people. His views on law were influenced by a tacit acceptance of slavery.

Plato was Aristotle's teacher. He authored "Laws," a dialogue that extensively discusses elements that influence the laws of a civilization, such as human intelligence, divine elements, philosophy, religion, and politics.

Socrates was Plato's teacher. The Socratic Method for arriving at an answer to legal and moral questions is his enduring contribution to the realm of legal jurisprudence.

Karl Llewellyn was an American scholar. He favored the approach of legal realism to solving matters of jurisprudence. He authored the book The Cheyenne Way, in which he shows that societies invariably have legislative and adjudicative bodies.

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