Prof. Herbert L.A. Hart
University of Oxford
Abstract in English: In his lecture, delivered at the Department of the Philosophy of Law of the Autonomous University of Madrid on 29 October 1979, H.L.A. Hart directly responds to Ronald Dworkin’s attack on Legal Positivism, launched in Taking Rights Seriously. In the Sections I–II, Hart explicates his version of Legal Positivism by means of three central positivist theses: the Thesis of the Conceptual Separation of Law and Morals, the Thesis of the Social Sources of Law, and the Thesis of Judicial Discretion. Next, in Section III, he discusses Dworkin’s fundamental objections against the positivist theory of judicial discretion and claims that none of them seem convincing. Finally, in Sections IV–V, Hart analyses a new, herculean theory of adjudication, proposed by Dworkin as a „middle way theory” between the classic theories of Natural Law and Legal Positivism. In his answer to the criticism of the positivist Rule of Recognition, Hart claims that there is no reason why this rule, in certain jurisdictions, would not predict the use of the herculean procedure among the criteria that it provides for the identification of the law. He also states that the use of the herculean method of adjudication is unacceptable for the lawyers and that an impracticable character of this method is easy to demonstrate by referring to the case of the wicked legal systems, in which the principles underlying the law are morally bad. Thus, Hart concludes that instead of a sound vía media between Natural Law and Legal Positivism, the theory of Dworkin seems to offer the confusion of them.
Keywords: legal positivism, herculean method of adjudication, three central positivist theses
Translation: Andrzej Grabowski
Published: Number 2(9)/2014, pp. 5-20
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