Chapter

The Human Behaviour Included in a Norm: External or Internal, Action or Omission, but always Social 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/9780198252177.003.0023
The Human Behaviour Included in a Norm: External or Internal, Action or Omission, but always Social Behaviour

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The behaviour which forms the object of a norm can be external or internal. The moral norm ‘Love your neighbour’ commands not only external behaviour, but also — and mainly — internal behaviour. The behaviour can be an active ‘doing’ — i.e. an action — or a passive omission. It is only a very specific action which can be omitted. A norm which commands a certain action forbids the omission of this action. A norm which commands the omission of a certain action forbids this action. Since the linguistic symbol for the omission of a certain action is the same as the symbol for negation (i.e. the word ‘not’) — ‘Refrain from lying’ is the same as ‘Do not lie’ — it is tempting to consider an omission as a negation. But this is wrong. The omission of an action is not the negation of the action, and the commanding of the omission of an action is not the negation of the commanding of the action.

Keywords: human behaviour; social behaviour; internal norm; external norm; linguistic symbol; norm

Chapter.  1006 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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