The Generality of Law
Forthcoming in Luís Duarte d'Almeida, James Edwards and Andrea Dolcetti, eds., Reading HLA Hart's 'The Concept of Law' (Hart Publishing 2013)
17 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2012 Last revised: 31 Jan 2014
Date Written: November 9, 2013
I outline the major ways in which law is necessarily general, starting from Hart’s account (in Chapter 2 of The Concept of Law), but pointing out aspects of generality in law that his essay on generality did not mention. I then explain the roles and the importance of particular norms in a legal system, arguing that particularity, too, is a necessary feature of a legal system. I discuss what ‘necessary’ means in these claims. It is a popular idea that legal theorists should not try to identify necessary features of law; I argue that the popular idea is a mistake. Finally, I argue that Hart should have been more willing to pass value judgments about law. We can get further with Hart’s own task – the elucidation task – if we say what is good – and bad – about law.
Keywords: HLA Hart, rule of law, necessary features of law
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