Understanding the Nature of Law

Understanding the Nature of Law

A Case for Constructive Conceptual Explanation

Elgar Studies in Legal Theory

Michael Giudice

Understanding the Nature of Law explores methodological questions about how best to explain law. Among these questions, one is central: is there something about law which determines how it should be theorized? This novel book explains the importance of conceptual explanation by situating its methods and goals in relation to, rather than in competition with, social scientific and moral theories of law.

Chapter 3: Conceptual explanation and contingency

Michael Giudice

Subjects: law - academic, legal philosophy, legal theory


Using Hart’s conceptual theory of law as an illustration, this chapter shows how analytical legal theory has internal resources enabling it to characterize law in terms of contingent features and relations, and not just the necessary features and relations it has historically sought to find and explain. This chapter emphasizes in particular that Hart’s conceptual theory of law is best understood not as a report of some familiar intuitions about law manifested in ordinary language use, but instead as a philosophical construction, comprised of several interconnected theses presented to highlight important features and relations of law wherever and whenever it exists.

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