The Tale of Two Harts; A Schlegelian Dialectic

33 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2020

See all articles by Charles L. Barzun

Charles L. Barzun

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: June 29, 2020


This essay, written for a symposium honoring John Henry Schlegel, is part intellectual history, part philosophical polemic. It first briefly compares the thought and work of two lions of legal thought, Henry Hart (1904-1969) and H.L.A. Hart (1907-1992). It then argues that although the Hart & Sacks Legal Process course materials have conventionally been interpreted as offering an “internal” account of legal practice, that framing itself reflects the influence of H.L.A. Hart’s (ordinary-language) philosophical approach to studying legal phenomena. Hart’s distinction between “internal” and “external” points of view has now become entrenched in legal theory, but Henry Hart would have rejected it. The essay thus asks what it would it mean to do the reverse — that is, to interpret H.L.A. Hart’s theory of law in the terms of Henry Hart’s (pragmatist) philosophical approach. What would legal theory and scholarship look like today? I suggest that, somewhat ironically, Schlegel’s recent writing on law teaching, legal history, and academic disciplines gives us some indication.

Keywords: Legal Process, Legal Positivism, Hart, Critical Legal Studies, Pragmatism

Suggested Citation

Barzun, Charles L., The Tale of Two Harts; A Schlegelian Dialectic (June 29, 2020). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2020-55, Available at SSRN:

Charles L. Barzun (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-6454 (Phone)

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