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Markets, Morals, and the Law$
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Jules L. Coleman

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253609.001.0001

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Negative and positive positivism

Negative and positive positivism

(p.3) 1. Negative and positive positivism
Markets, Morals, and the Law

Jules L. Coleman

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents and defends a version of legal positivism, relying on two distinctions: one between epistemic and ontological conceptions of the rule of recognition, and the other between negative and positive positivism. The chapter argues that positivism is committed to the rule of recognition as a semantic or ontological rule only, and that its essential positive claim is that the authority of law everywhere is a matter of social convention. These points, taken together, make legal positivism both interesting and defensible. Because negative positivism is essentially a negative thesis, it cannot be undermined by counter-examples, any one of which would show only that, in some community or other, morality is a condition of legality at least for some norms.

Keywords:   negative positivism, positive positivism, legal positivism, authority of law, philosophy, rule of recognition, morality, law as hard facts, social rule argument, Ronald Dworkin

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