Law is the Command of the Sovereign: H.L.A. Hart Reconsidered

Ratio Juris. Vol. 29 No. 3 September 2016 (364-384)

21 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2014 Last revised: 10 Aug 2018

See all articles by Andrew Stumpff Morrison

Andrew Stumpff Morrison

University of Michigan Law School; University of Alabama Law School; Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 4, 2014

Abstract

This article presents a critical reevaluation of the thesis – closely associated with H.L.A. Hart, and central to the views of most recent legal philosophers – that the idea of state coercion is not logically essential to the definition of law. The author argues that even laws governing contracts must ultimately be understood as “commands of the sovereign, backed by force”. This follows in part from recognition that the “sovereign”, defined rigorously, at the highest level of abstraction, is that person or entity identified by reference to game theory and the philosophical idea of “convention” as the source of signals with which the subject population has become effectively locked, as a group, into conformity.

Keywords: H.L.A. Hart, John Austin, Jeremy Bentham, coercive model, game theory, convention, sovereign, command model

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Morrison, Andrew Stumpff, Law is the Command of the Sovereign: H.L.A. Hart Reconsidered (August 4, 2014). Ratio Juris. Vol. 29 No. 3 September 2016 (364-384), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2476005 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2476005

Andrew Stumpff Morrison (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

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University of Alabama Law School

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Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

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