Primary and Secondary Norms—The Difference between Law and Morality

Hans Kelsen

in General Theory of Norms

Published in print March 1991 | ISBN: 9780198252177
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681363 | DOI:
Primary and Secondary Norms—The Difference between Law and Morality

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If a normative order contains not only norms which command a certain behaviour, but also norms which decree sanctions for the nonobservance of norms (as in a positive legal order) and even sanctions for the observance of norms (as in a positive moral order), then the norm which commands a certain behaviour and the norm which decrees a sanction for the non-observance or observance of the first norm form a unity. But this unity may not be expressed in the actual formulation of the norms. If it is assumed to be essential for law that a distinction be made between a norm commanding a certain behaviour and a norm prescribing a sanction for the violation of the first norm, then the former norm must be called the primary norm, and the latter the secondary norm — and not the other way around.

Keywords: primary norms; secondary norms; law and morality; normative order; legal order; norms violations

Chapter.  801 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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