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General Theory of Norms$
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Hans Kelsen

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198252177

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198252177.001.0001

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The Human Behaviour Included in a Norm: External or Internal, Action or Omission, but always Social Behaviour

The Human Behaviour Included in a Norm: External or Internal, Action or Omission, but always Social Behaviour

Chapter:
(p.92) 23 The Human Behaviour Included in a Norm: External or Internal, Action or Omission, but always Social Behaviour
Source:
General Theory of Norms
Author(s):

Hans Kelsen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198252177.003.0023

The behaviour which forms the object of a norm can be external or internal. The moral norm ‘Love your neighbour’ commands not only external behaviour, but also — and mainly — internal behaviour. The behaviour can be an active ‘doing’ — i.e. an action — or a passive omission. It is only a very specific action which can be omitted. A norm which commands a certain action forbids the omission of this action. A norm which commands the omission of a certain action forbids this action. Since the linguistic symbol for the omission of a certain action is the same as the symbol for negation (i.e. the word ‘not’) — ‘Refrain from lying’ is the same as ‘Do not lie’ — it is tempting to consider an omission as a negation. But this is wrong. The omission of an action is not the negation of the action, and the commanding of the omission of an action is not the negation of the commanding of the action.

Keywords:   human behaviour, social behaviour, internal norm, external norm, linguistic symbol, norm

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