Lessons from Hart

Problema 5:363-383 (2012)
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In this paper, I defend H. L. A. Hart against two prevalent criticisms of his views on social rules and the obligations with which these rules are often associated. These criticisms, I argue, rely on misunderstandings ormischaracterizations of what Hart actually intended. These misunderstandings are plausibly explained by a failure on the part of his critics to appreciate fully two of the valuable lessons Hart sought to communicate in his inaugural lecture. First, words like ‘rule’ and ‘obligation’ should not be removed from their various contexts of use and subjected to abstract philosophical definition and analysis. Second, when analyzing assertions in which such words figure in both legal practice and theory, it is crucial to bear in mind the different functions these assertions can be made to serve and the different purposes to which they can be put.



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