Article

Legal Positivism

Michael Sevel and Brian Leiter

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0065
Legal Positivism

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Legal positivism is one of the leading philosophical theories of the nature of law, and is characterized by two theses: (1) the existence and content of law depends entirely on social facts (e.g., facts about human behavior and intentions), and (2) there is no necessary connection between law and morality—more precisely, the existence and content of a law do not depend on its merits or demerits (e.g., whether or not it lives up to the ideals of justice, democracy, or morality). The theory has enjoyed a large number of adherents since it was first articulated by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century and has undergone considerable modification and development since then. Legal positivism is accepted today by most Anglophone philosophers of law, though natural law theories, its natural opponents, continue to challenge positivism’s fundamental claims.

Article.  6544 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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