Law – a system of norms that regulate the behaviour of men
The reason for the validity of a norm – the reason why the norm ought to be obeyed
– cannot be a fact. A descriptive statement cannot spawn a normative statement
“The mere fact that somebody commands something is no reason to regard the
command as a valid norm” (15).
“Only a competent authority can create valid norms; and such competence can only
be based on a norm that authorizes the issuing of norms. The authority authorized
to issue norms is subject to that norm in the same manner as the individuals are
subject to the norms issued by the authority” (15).
This process, therefore, “must end with a norm which, as the last and highest, is
presupposed. It must be presupposed because it cannot be 'posited'” (16). This is
the “basic norm.”
The Reason for the Validity of a Legal Order
“A legal norm is not valid because it has a certain content, that is, because its
content is logically deducible from a presupposed basic norm, but because it is
created in a certain way – ultimately in a way determined by a presupposed basic
norm... Therefore any kind of content might be law” (16).
“The basic norm is that norm which is presupposed when the custom through which
the constitution has come into existence or the constitution-creating act consciously
performed by certain human beings, is objectively interpreted as a norm-creating
“The basic norm determines the basic fact of law creation” (16).
“If we ask for the reason of the validity of the historically first constitution, then the
answer can only be (if we leave aside God or 'nature') that the validity of this
constitution – the assumption that it is a binding norm – must be presupposed if we
want to interpret (1) the acts performed according to it as the creation or
application of valid general legal norms; and (2) the acts performed in application of
these general norms as the creation or application of valid individual legal norms”
“In short: One ought to behave as the constitution prescribes)” (17).
Legitimacy and Effectiveness
Principle of Legitimacy - “The norms of a l