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LWSO 203 Lecture Notes - H. L. A. Hart, Moral Universalism

Law and Society
Course Code
LWSO 203
Marywyatt Sindlinger

of 2
Key concept: What is law and how can law be defined?
Basic definition: Law is a body of requirements and prescriptions that apply to human behaviour
General features of law:
(i) Prescribe certain behaviour
(ii) Predict behaviours
(iii) Regular
(iv) General
(v) Created and enforced by the state
What is the difference between laws and other forms of rules and the difference between law and
Legal Theories
key concept: Different legal theories provide different explanations for the existence and
authority of law as well as for the nature of law
1) Natural Law Theory Law is Morality
Key concepts:
moral universalism – As part of the natural world, Universal Moral Truths exist
law and morality are connected such that moral validity is a necessary condition
of legal validity
Key people: Greeks
St. Thomas Aquinas
American Constitution and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Problems: How do we determine Universal Moral Truths?
Are Universal Moral Truths actually possible?
2) Legal Positivism Law is Rules made by a Sovereign
Key concepts:
Law is justified and legitimate in accordance to its manner of creation
separation of the question of the existence of law from its moral content
empirical/scientific approach to understanding law
Key people:
John Austin Command theory: law is the command of the sovereign
a command is a wish or intimation of a wish that you do or refrain from
doing X backed by the threat that an evil will be put upon you if you fail
to obey
command, duty, sanction
HLA Hart: Primary and secondary rules
Primary rules: what you can and cannot do
Secondary rules: rules that allow us to interpret, apply and modify the
primary rules