Natural Laws and Social (Moral and Legal) Laws

Hans Kelsen

in General Theory of Norms

Published in print March 1991 | ISBN: 9780198252177
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681363 | DOI:
Natural Laws and Social (Moral and Legal) Laws

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When ethics describes a general norm of morality by means of the sentence ‘If someone is in need, one is to help him’ or when legal science describes a general legal norm by means of the sentence ‘If someone borrows money, he is to repay it’, then the linking of condition and consequence clearly does not have the character of causal necessity. It is expressed by ‘ought’ and not ‘must’. It is a normative and not a causal necessity. It is possible for someone to be in need and not receive any help, or to borrow money and not repay it. This normative necessity in the relation between condition and consequence is to be found also in the linking produced by a general legal norm which prescribes a coercive act, a so-called sanction, as a consequence in the event that a certain behaviour occurs (a behaviour characterized as illegal).

Keywords: natural laws; social laws; norm of morality; legal norm; normative necessity; causal necessity

Chapter.  1018 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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