Russell's Paradox and Legal Positivism
David Gray Carlson
Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
March 8, 2009
Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 257
In 1902, Bertrand Russell overturned set theory, which aspired to reduce all sets to their rules of recognition. These rules were to have logical priority to empirical sets posited by empirical human beings. As a result of Russell's Paradox, set theory gave up the hope of theorizing sets. This paper claims Russell's Paradox can be applied directly to jurisprudence. The result is that legal positivism (carefully defined as the claim that law can be reduced to rules of recognition) is invalid and must be abandoned. The corollary to this proposition is that law cannot be entirely separated from morality.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Keywords: Bertrand Russell, positivism, Hart, Kelsen, Raz, rule of recognition, set theory, morality
Date posted: March 10, 2009
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