The Forces of Law: Duty, Coercion and Power
34 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2015
Date Written: March 31, 2015
This paper addresses the question of the relationship between law and coercive force. It defends, against Frederick Schauer’s claims in his book, The Force of Law, the following propositions:
(a) The force of law consists in three things, not one: the imposition of duties, the use of coercion, and the exercise of social power. These are different and distinct.
(b) Even if coercion is not part of the concept of law, coercion is connected to law in a variety of ways. These are amply recognized in contemporary jurisprudence.
(c) We cannot determine how important coercion is to the efficacy of law until we know what counts as coercive force. This question is not a matter for empirical generalization or bare stipulation. It requires an explanation of the concept of coercion.
Keywords: law, coercion, power, jurisprudence, Frederick Schauer, Hans Kelsen, H.L.A. Hart
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