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Posts tagged ‘Ethics’

Introduction to the Norms Part I: Kelsen’s Theory of Normativity

I’ve already said that my Norms first emerged from the strange depths of my imagination in a law lecture when, no doubt, I should have been focusing on other things. As even the brightest law student will tell you, it isn’t always easy to concentrate in law lectures, especially when the subject is jurisprudence, where the very idea of legal philosophy fills most budding lawyers with abject horror, and then, inevitably, boredom. One such lecture introduced us to the legal theorist Hans Kelsen, who’s Pure Theory of Law (“Reine Rechtslehre”) has become a staple of jurisprudential study and was itself a radical modernist legal theory when first published in 1934. Like most legal theorists, Kelsen was trying to establish why law is what it is, how it works, why it is obeyed, and what it says about us as a society, our moral compass and the importance (if any) of religion as a backbone to society’s legal machinery. All fairly irrelevant questions you may think: The law is what the law is and that’s that. And you may be right – it’s certainly a question that went through my mind on a number of occasions when I first started studying jurisprudence. But the subject throws up some very interesting questions which make for a fascinating dinner table conversation, even for the most unwitting philosopher. Read more