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Philosophy of Law

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What Is Philosophy of Law :

Philosophy of law is a branch of philosophy and, more in particular, the branch that deals with philosophical questions about law. Examples of such questions are as follows:

-Origin of Law
– how punishing criminals can be justified,
– what the essence of the rule of law is,
– whether human rights would still exist if they were not included in a statute or treaty,
– why contracts are binding,
– what the nature of law is.

  • The Normative Question
  • The Conceptual Question

Study of Leviathan 

Foundation of Western Legal Tradition

  • Ancient
  • Modern

Indian Jurisprudence

Natural Law


Legal Positivism

Historical Approach 

Marxist Approach

Sociological approach

Realist Approach

American Jurisprudence

Feminist Approach to Law

Hart: Introduction to his System

Law as System

  • The Concept of Law
  • Primary and Secondary Rules
  • A Fallible Theory
  • A Chain of Rules
  • Social Practice as Foundation of Law
  • The Role of “Officials”
  • A Practical Application: EU Law
  • Customary Law

Hart as a Legal Positivist

Thomas Hobbes: Normative Legal Positivism

The State

Positive Law and Natural Law

More Topics

  1. Law  and ideology
  2. Law and language
  3. Limits of  law
  4. Nature of  Law
  5. Rule of law and procedural fairness
  6. Laws of nature
  7. Ceteris paribus
  8. Legal obligation and authority
  9. Legal philosophy
  10. Economic analysis of law
  11. Legal positivism
  12. Legal punishment
  13. legal reasoning
  14. Interpretation and coherence of Law
  15. Precedent vs analogy
  16. Legal rights
  17.  Political legitimacy


  • Andrew Altman (1986), “Legal Realism, Critical Legal Studies, and Dworkin,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 205-236.
  • Brian Bix (1995), “Conceptual Questions and Jurisprudence,” Legal Theory, vol. 1, no. 4 (December), pp. 465-479.
  • Brian Bix (1996a), Jurisprudence: Theory and Context (Boulder, CO: Westview Press).
  • Brian Bix (1996b), “Natural Law Theory,” in Dennis M. Patterson (ed.), A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing Co.).
  • Brian Leiter (1998), “Naturalism and Naturalized Jurisprudence,” in Brian Bix (ed.), Analyzing Law: New Essays in Legal Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • Brian Leiter, “Legal Realism,” in Dennis M. Patterson, ed. (1996), A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers).
  • C.L. Ten (1987), Crime, Guilt, and Punishment (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Gerald Dworkin (1972), “Paternalism,” The Monist, vol. 56, pp. 64-84.
  • H.L.A. Hart (1963), Law, Liberty and Morality (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • H.L.A. Hart (1983), Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • H.L.A. Hart (1994), The Concept of Law, 2nd Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Jeremy Bentham (1970), Of Laws In General (London: Athlone Press).
  • Jeremy Bentham (1988), A Fragment of Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Jerome Frank (1930), Law and the Modern Mind (New York: Brentano’s Publishing).
  • Joel Feinberg (1979), “Civil Disobedience in the Modern World,” Humanities in Review, vol. 2, pp. 37-60.
  • Joel Feinberg (1985), Offense to Others (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • John Austin (1977), Lectures on Jurisprudence and the Philosophy of Positive Law (St. Clair Shores, MI: Scholarly Press.
  • John Austin (1995), The Province of Jurisprudence Determined (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • John Chipman Gray (1921), The Nature and Source of Law (New York: Macmillan).
  • John Finnis (1980), Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • John Rawls (1964), “Legal Obligation and the Duty of Fair Play,” in Sidney Hook (ed.), Law and Philosophy (New York: New York University Press), pp. 3-18.
  • John Stuart Mill (1906), On Liberty (New York: Alfred A. Knopf).
  • Joseph Raz (1979), The Authority of Law: Essays on Law and Morality (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • Joseph Raz (1980), The Concept of a Legal System: An Introduction to the Theory of Legal Systems, Second Edition (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • Jules L. Coleman (1982), “Negative and Positive Positivism,” 11 Journal of Legal Studies vol. 139, no. 1, pp. 139-164.
  • Jules L. Coleman (1989), “On the Relationship Between Law and Morality,” Ratio Juris, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 66-78.
  • Jules L. Coleman (1996), “Authority and Reason,” in Robert P. George, The Autonomy of Law: Essays on Legal Positivism (Oxford: Clarendon Press), pp. 287-319.
  • Jules L. Coleman (1998), “Incorporationism, Conventionality and The Practical Difference Thesis,” Legal Theory, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 381-426.
  • Jules L. Coleman and Jeffrie Murphy (1990), Philosophy of Law (Boulder, CO: Westview Press).
  • Kenneth Einar Himma (1998), “Positivism, Naturalism, and the Obligation to Obey Law,” Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 145-161.
  • Kent Greenawalt (1987), Conflicts of Law and Morality (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • Kimberle Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas, eds. (1995), Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement (New York: The New Press).
  • Klaus Füßer (1996), “Farewell to ‘Legal Positivism’: The Separation Thesis Unravelling,” in Robert P. George, The Autonomy of Law: Essays on Legal Positivism (Oxford: Clarendon Press), pp. 119-162.
  • Lon L. Fuller (1958), “Positivism and Fidelity to Law,” Harvard Law Review, vol. 71, no. 4, pp. 630-672 .
  • Lon L. Fuller (1964), The Morality of Law (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).
  • M.B.E. Smith (1973), “Do We have a Prima Facie Obligation to Obey the Law,” 82 Yale Law Journal 950-976.
  • Michael Moore (1992), “Law as a Functional Kind,” in Robert P. George (ed.), Natural Law Theories: Contemporary Essays (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • Michael Moore, “The Moral Worth of Retribution,” in Ferdinand Schoeman, ed. (1987), Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Oliver Wendall Holmes (1898), “The Path of the Law,” Harvard Law Review, vol. 110, no. 5, pp. 991-1009 .
  • Patricia Smith, ed. (1993), Feminist Jurisprudence (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Patrick Devlin (1965), The Enforcement of Morals (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Randy E. Barnett (1977), “Restitution: A New Paradigm of Criminal Justice,” Ethics, vol. 87, no. 4, pp. 279-301.
  • Richard Posner (1992), Economic Analysis of Law, 4th Edition (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company).
  • Roger Shiner (1992), Norm and Nature (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • Ronald Dworkin (1978), Taking Rights Seriously (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).
  • Ronald Dworkin (1982), “‘Natural’ Law Revisited,” University of Florida Law Review vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 165-188.
  • Ronald Dworkin (1986), Law’s Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).
  • Thomas Aquinas (1988), On Law, Morality and Politics (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.).
  • W.J. Waluchow (1994), Inclusive Legal Positivism (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • William Blackstone (1979), Commentaries on the Law of England (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).
  • William Fisher, Morton Horovitz, and Thomas Reed, eds. (1993), American Legal Realism (New York: Oxford University Press).

More topics on Legal Philosophy

  1. Judicial Accomplishments and Philosophy- President G. W. Bush
  2. Legal Hermeneutics
  3. Legal Validity
  4. Meaning for the term “positive law” with respect to the United States Code
  5. What is Jurisprudence


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