Poor Wesley Hohfeld

21 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2018 Last revised: 29 Oct 2018

See all articles by Peter K. Westen

Peter K. Westen

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: September 21, 2018


John Wesley Hohfeld has lost one audience and gained another within the century since he published his seminal Fundamental Legal Conceptions. Hohfeld originally conceived of his work as an aide to lawyers and law students. And law faculties initially embraced him with ardor. Over time, however, law faculties have lost interest in Hohfeld, and moral philosophers have taken their place, such that it is difficult to read widely today regarding the ethics of war and self defense without coming across supportive references to Hohfeld. Unfortunately, moral theorists too often invoke Hohfeld for propositions that he explicitly disavowed. Using Uwe Steinhoff and other commentators as foils, I discuss several of the most common errors that moral and legal commentators make about Hohfeld.

Suggested Citation

Westen, Peter K., Poor Wesley Hohfeld (September 21, 2018). San Diego Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 2, 2018, U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 623, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3253162

Peter K. Westen (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

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