Definition and Theory in Jurisprudence

H. L. A. Hart

in Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy

Published in print November 1983 | ISBN: 9780198253884
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681431 | DOI:
Definition and Theory in Jurisprudence

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This chapter discusses the relevance of linguistic philosophy to the philosophy of law and jurisprudence. The perplexities discussed are voiced in those questions of analytical jurisprudence which are usually characterized as requests for definitions: What is law? What is a State? What is a right? What is possession? The chapter uses as a simple analogy of the rules of a game which at many vital points have the same puzzling logical structure as rules of law. It also describes four distinctive features which show the method of elucidation to be applied to the law and why the common mode of definition fails. It is only since philosophical attention has turned towards language that the general features of that style of human thought and discourse which is concerned with rules and their application to conduct has emerged.

Keywords: linguistic philosophy; philosophy of law; jurisprudence; theory; conduct; rules

Chapter.  12394 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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