Penn State

Jud Mathews - Associate Professor Law, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Concept of Law

Author: H.L.A. Hart

Book Description:

The question at the heart of The Concept of Law is as easy to state as it is difficult to answer: what is law? Hart's own answer — that law is the union of primary rules (governing conduct) and secondary rules (that govern the creation and change of primary rules) — is a masterpiece of clear-headed thinking that manages to avoid both an appeal to nebulous metaphysics and the reductionist equation of laws with coercive threats. But Hart's book raised important questions of its own. And these ostensibly abstract questions about the concept of law have real-world importance, including what counts as a legitimate method for interpreting the Constitution. Coming up with a more adequate concept of law is a daunting task, but Hart's important work stands as an inspiration for us to try.


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