Chapter

Kelsen's Doctrine of the Unity of Law

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198253884.003.0016
Kelsen's Doctrine of the Unity of Law

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This chapter examines one of the most striking doctrines expounded by Hans Kelsen in his General Theory of Law and State and his more recent Pure Theory of Law. It is believed that Kelsen's doctrine of the unity of all valid laws, and his conclusions concerning the possible and actual relationships between international law and municipal laws, are mistaken. It also considers Kelsen's theory of the unity of international law and municipal law, dealing first with the weaker version and then with the stronger version. In addition, it addresses the ‘no conflict’ theory of international law and municipal law, dealing first with the strong version and then with the weaker version. Moreover, it examines some morals from these criticisms of Kelsen's theories that may help in the construction of a more satisfactory analysis of the notion of a legal system, and of the nature of the criteria determining its membership, and of the principles of individuation of legal systems.

Keywords: Hans Kelsen; valid laws; morals; unity of law; international law; municipal law; no conflict theory

Chapter.  13777 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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