The Forces of Law: Duty, Coercion and Power

34 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2015

See all articles by Leslie Green

Leslie Green

Queen's University - Faculty of Law; University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

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

Suggested Citation

Green, Leslie, The Forces of Law: Duty, Coercion and Power (March 31, 2015). Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12/2015, Available at SSRN: or

Leslie Green (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kingston, Canada, Ontario K7L3N6

HOME PAGE: http://

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

Balliol College
Oxford, UK, OX1 3BJ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://

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