Chapter

The Object of Norms: Human Behaviour

Hans Kelsen

in General Theory of Norms

Published in print March 1991 | ISBN: 9780198252177
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681363 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198252177.003.0022
The Object of Norms: Human Behaviour

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The object of a norm (that which the norm prescribes or decrees to be obligatory) is the behaviour of a being endowed with reason and will, that is — according to present-day views — human behaviour. For a norm is to be observed and applied. Thus there is no point in positing a norm unless it is addressed to a being which can understand this meaning-content and be willing to behave in accordance with it (even if the objective validity of the norm is independent of the addressee's knowledge of the norm in a concrete case). Admittedly, the foregoing seems to be true only of the social orders of civilized peoples, since in primitive societies the behaviour of animals, plants, and even inanimate things is regulated by the legal order in the same way as that of human beings.

Keywords: human behaviour; object of norms; meaning-content; norm validity; social orders; addressee's knowledge

Chapter.  1345 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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