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The authority of lawEssays on law and morality$
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Joseph Raz

Print publication date: 1979

Print ISBN-13: 9780198253457

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198253457.001.0001

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Legal Positivism and the Sources of Law *

Legal Positivism and the Sources of Law *

(p.36) (p.37) 3 Legal Positivism and the Sources of Law*
The authority of law

Joseph Raz

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains the reasons for rejecting any approach to the law which assumes that the determination of the legal validity of any standard of conduct involves a moral argument. In it, the focus is centred on Legal Positivism and its definition, and on claims of the legal validity of law. The chapter begins with the nature of legal positivism and clarifies the three areas of dispute that shroud the concept of legal positivism: the social thesis, the moral thesis, and the semantics thesis of positivism. While all of these theses are significant in understanding where legal positivism stands on the issue of law, the chapter focuses on the social thesis wherein definite views of the social conditions for the existence and identity of legal systems and reasons supporting the social thesis are discussed and analysed. The chapter also discusses the sources of law wherein the two prevailing social theses, the weak social thesis and the strong social thesis, later termed as the sources theses, are analysed.

Keywords:   law, legal validity, moral argument, legal positivism, social thesis, moral thesis, semantics thesis, positivism, legal systems

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