Some logico-semantical themes in Karl Olivecrona's philosophy of law: A non-exegetical approach

Theoria 74 (4):271-294 (2008)
The paper deals with certain issues with which Olivecrona was mainly concerned in his Philosophy of Law, notably (i) his views about the logical or syntactical form of imperatives as used in the law, and (ii) his views on the semantics of imperatives in the law and on the question whether and to what extent the notions of truth and falsity are applicable to those imperatives at all. In the light of an important critical notice of Olivecrona's work by Marc-Wogau (1940 ), we examine some textual evidence for attributing to Olivecrona a so-called Atheoretical Thesis to the effect that imperatives in the law are neither true nor false or lack truth-value altogether. We close the paper by commenting on the celebrated distinction due to Hedenius (1941 ) and further elaborated by Wedberg (1951 ) between genuine ("rule-stating") normative sentences in the law and spurious ones (stating merely that a given rule is (or is not) in force in a given society at a given time). Two interesting difficulties bound up with that distinction will be dealt with. By means of various quotations we try to capture something of the flavour characterizing the legal philosophical discussion in Sweden in the mid-twentieth century during la belle époque of Scandinavian Legal Realism of which Olivecrona was a typical representative.
Keywords Hedenius  Marc‐Wogau  Kanger  applicability of truth and falsity  emotive theory of ethics and law  imperatives  genuine vs. spurious normative (deontic) sentences in the law  Wedberg
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DOI 10.1111/j.1755-2567.2008.00025.x
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