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

21 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2016

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

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Date Written: September 2016

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.

Suggested Citation

Morrison, Andrew Stumpff, Law is the Command of the Sovereign: H. L. A. Hart Reconsidered (September 2016). Ratio Juris, Vol. 29, Issue 3, pp. 364-384, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2820385 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/raju.12133

Andrew Stumpff Morrison (Contact Author)

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