The phenomenon of law
IT is ungenerous to pick holes in The Concept of Law. It is a great work. Its clarity is luminous, and its argument sustained and convincing. Hart is eminently successful in rescuing the concept of law from the Legal Realists, the Positivists, and the Formalists, who attempt to straitjacket it within schemata which are too narrow or too vague to give an adequate elucidation of it. But sometimes Hart is not carried along by his arguments as far as he should. He makes too many concessions to his opponents, and his own account of the law is, in consequence, too formalist, in spite of having himself adduced cogent considerations elsewhere for rejecting the purely formalist line of argument. The rule of recognition, although important, is not fundamental. We should, rather, see law as a social phenomenon, to be distinguished from other social phenomena, but intelligible only in a social context, and not-as lawyers are too ready to suppose-an autonomous discipline which can be explained and understood entirely in its own terms.
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