A. Dolcetti, L. Duarte d'Almeida & J. Edwards, Reading H.L.A. Hart's 'The Concept of Law,' Hart Publishing, 2013
17 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 22, 2012
An important strand of contemporary jurisprudence takes the search for the necessary or essential features of the concept of law as the central (or, at the extremes, the exclusive) jurisprudential task. Moreover, the theorists occupying this strand of jurisprudence claim to be operating within the tradition established by H.L.A. Hart in The Concept of Law. A careful reading of Chapter One of that book, however, as well as an effort to situate the chapter within the philosophical climate in which it was written, exposes a decidedly anti-essentialist flavor. This paper, written for the Oxford Jurisprudence Discussion Group’s lecture series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Concept of Law, focuses on Chapter One, and sets out not only the historical case for reading the chapter in an anti-essentialist way, but also suggests that such a reading has valuable implications for how we think about both Hart and the enterprise of jurisprudence fifty years later.
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