Hart as a Political Philosopher

John Finnis

in Philosophy of Law

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580088
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729409 | DOI:
Hart as a Political Philosopher

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law


Show Summary Details


After a brief appreciation of Hart's life and virtues, this chapter contrasts his legal-theoretical work with conceptions of method and political philosophy dominant between 1945 and 1960. Hart's attention to law's functions, decisive for The Concept of Law, transcends the merely linguistic or conceptual. Hart failed to follow through resolutely, but his work like Rawls's rejoined the enterprise launched by Plato and Aristotle and derided by Hobbes. The chapter's second half is a root and branch critique of Hart's normative political philosophy, especially Law, Liberty and Morality, which failed to see the irrelevance of Devlin's focus on positive morality, and thus cut itself off from the main political philosophical tradition and from reason. A special failing was Hart's claim that sex ethics cannot be rational, and his neglect of the question whether and how political culture and community have preconditions bearing on procreation and family.

Keywords: Hart; philosophical method; conceptual analysis; linguistic analysis; Plato; Aristotle; Devlin; positive morality; sex ethics

Chapter.  11825 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.