Between 'Metaphysics of the Stone Age' and the 'Brave New World': H.L.A. Hart on the Law's Assumptions About Human Nature

Jurisprudence and Political Philosophy in the 21st Century: Reassessing Legacies, ed. Miodrag Jovanović, Bojan Spaić (Frankfurt: Peter Lang 2012), pp. 71-87

17 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2012 Last revised: 22 Nov 2012

Péter Cserne

University of Hull; Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Date Written: July 12, 2012

Abstract

This paper analyses H.L.A. Hart’s views on the epistemic character of the law’s assumptions about human nature. Hart suggests that the assumptions behind legal doctrines typically combine common sense factual beliefs, moral intuitions, and philosophical theories of earlier ages with sound moral principles, and empirical knowledge. An important task of legal theory is to provide a ‘rational and critical foundation’ for these doctrines. This does not only imply conceptual clarification in light of an epistemic ideal of objectivity but also involves legal theorists in ‘enlightenment’ about empirical facts, ‘demystification’ of metaphysical obscurities, and substantive normative, including moral reasoning. Hart also argued, in a way that is somewhat surprisingly similar to Lon Fuller's views, that embedded in legal doctrines of causation and responsibility are assumptions about human agency and personhood that are potentially in conflict with naturalistic theories about human behaviour.

Keywords: legal epistemology, H.L.A. Hart, human nature, law and behavioral sciences

Suggested Citation

Cserne, Péter, Between 'Metaphysics of the Stone Age' and the 'Brave New World': H.L.A. Hart on the Law's Assumptions About Human Nature (July 12, 2012). Jurisprudence and Political Philosophy in the 21st Century: Reassessing Legacies, ed. Miodrag Jovanović, Bojan Spaić (Frankfurt: Peter Lang 2012), pp. 71-87. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2161086

Péter Cserne (Contact Author)

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

University of Hull ( email )

University of Hull Law School
Cottingham Road
Hull, HU6 7RX
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www2.hull.ac.uk/fass/law/staff/cserne_p.aspx

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