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
Date Written: July 12, 2012
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
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