Continuity and change in legal positivism
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Law and Philosophy 17 (3):233-250 (1998)
Institutional theory of law (ITL) reflects both continuity and change of Kelsen's legal positivism. The main alteration results from the way ITL extends Hart's linguistic turn towards ordinary language philosophy (OLP). Hart holds –like Kelsen – that law cannot be reduced to brute fact nor morality, but because of its attempt to reconstruct social practices his theory is more inclusive. By introducing the notion of law as an extra-linguistic institution ITL takes a next step in legal positivism and accounts for the relationship between action and validity within the legal system. There are, however, some problems yet unresolved by ITL. One of them is its theory of meaning. An other is the way it accounts for change and development. Answers may be based on the pragmatic philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce, who emphasises the intrinsic relation between the meaning of speech acts and the process of habit formation.
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