Hartian positivism and normative facts : How facts make law II

In Scott Hershovitz (ed.), Exploring Law's Empire: The Jurisprudence of Ronald Dworkin. Oxford University Press (2006)
In this paper, I deploy an argument that I have developed in a number of recent papers in the service of three projects. First, I show that the most influential version of legal positivism – that associated with H.L.A. Hart – fails. The argument’s engine is a requirement that a constitutive account of legal facts must meet. According to this rational-relation requirement, it is not enough for a constitutive account of legal facts to specify non-legal facts that modally determine the legal facts. The constitutive determinants of legal facts must provide reasons for the obtaining of the legal facts (in a sense of “reason” that I develop). I show that the Hartian account is unable to meet this requirement. That officials accept a rule of recognition does not by itself constitute a reason why the standards specified in that rule are part of the law of the community. I argue that it is false that understanding the explanatory significance of officials’ acceptance of a rule is part of our reflective understanding of the nature of law. The second project of the paper is to respond to a family of objections that challenge me to explain why normative facts and descriptive facts together are better placed to provide reasons for legal facts than descriptive facts alone. A unifying theme of the objections is that explanations have to stop somewhere; descriptive facts, it is suggested, are no worse a stopping place than normative facts. Third, the paper spells out a consequence of the rational-relation requirement: if an account of what, at the most basic level, determines legal facts is true in any possible legal system, it is true in all possible legal systems. For example, if a Hartian account of legal facts is true in any possible legal system, it is true in all possible legal systems. I use this all-or-nothing result in my critique of a Hartian account, but the result is of interest in its own right.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 22,037
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

35 ( #121,379 of 1,934,423 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #195,835 of 1,934,423 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.