Kelsen’s Theory of The Basic Norm<sup>*</sup>

Joseph Raz

in The authority of law

Published in print August 1979 | ISBN: 9780198253457
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681400 | DOI:
Kelsen’s Theory of The Basic Norm*

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This chapter discusses one of Kelsen's doctrines on legal philosophy. It focuses on his theory of the basic norm, which has earned criticism as well as admiration for the obscure manner in which Kelsen explained it. In the chapter, an attempt to demythologize the concept of the basic norm is made. It also explains the concept of Kelsen's theory to provide answers to some of the well-known jurisprudential issues. The chapter seeks not to retrace the developments of the theory; rather, it will be examined in relation to the problems it was designed to solve. Only Kelsen's use of the concept of basic norm in legal theory is examined in the chapter. Topics discussed include the nature of the theory, the basic norm and its idea of the unity of legal systems, the theory and its stand on the normativity of law, the theory and its stand on the moral value of law, Kelsen's idea of the nature of the normativity of law, and the individualistic and legal viewpoint of the normativity of law.

Keywords: Kelsen; legal philosophy; basic norm; theory; jurisprudential issues; legal theory; legal systems; normativity; moral value

Chapter.  9850 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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