On Hart's Ways: Law as Reason and as Fact

John Finnis

in Philosophy of Law

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580088
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729409 | DOI:
On Hart's Ways: Law as Reason and as Fact

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Hart's early philosophical work on deciding and intending, like his later work on self-reference and on intention and his decisively important concept of the internal point of view, opened jurisprudence up to a full recognition that law has its reality not only as fact but also as reasons for action. But as MacCormick showed, Hart's distinction between internal and external points of view was imprecise, and the roots of this failure can be seen in the early work on deliberation, with its Hobbesian, Humean, and Kantian misunderstandings of practical reason which are mirrored in The Concept of Law. The chapter analyses the kinds of reason for compliance that the law offers its subjects, and the extent to which these were and were not noticed in that book. After a brief comment on more recent positivism, the chapter concludes with a close examination of the elements of moral scepticism that Hart sought, with incomplete success, to keep from affecting the results of his legal-philosophical work.

Keywords: Hart; MacCormick; internal point of view; practical reasoning; deliberation; Hobbes; Hume; Kant; reasons for compliance; self-reference

Chapter.  14275 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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