Normativity and Norms: Critical Perspectives on Kelsenian Themes

Normativity and Norms: Critical Perspectives on Kelsenian Themes

Normativity and Norms: Critical Perspectives on Kelsenian Themes

Normativity and Norms: Critical Perspectives on Kelsenian Themes


This remarkable collection contains some of the very best work on themes developed by Hans Kelsen, regarded by many as the most influential legal philosopher of the twentieth century. The volume addresses in rich detail the topic where debate on Kelsen's work has been liveliest: 'normativity' as Kelsen's alternative to both traditional legal positivism and natural law theory. The book boasts a truly international list of contributors, with authors from Europe, North and South America, and Australia - a dozen countries in all.


Hans Kelsen (1881-1973) published his first major treatise, Main Problems in the Theory of Public Law, in 1911. His last major work, the General Theory of Norms, appeared six years after his death. While the earlier work sets the stage for what emerged in the 1920s as the Pure Theory of Law, the later work marks Kelsen's own rejection of large parts of that theory. Along with sustained work on the Pure Theory of Law through the early 1930s, Kelsen wrote on a variety of other topics in legal theory during his long, intellectually active life. His contributions in constitutional law, public international law, and political theory were substantial, in some areas fundamental. And there were forays into anthropological speculation, important studies of classical philosophers, most notably Plato, and a good deal more along the way.

Kelsen's influence in legal philosophy and legal theory is unrivalled in this century. It is seen not only in the extraordinary juridicophilosophical controversies surrounding the Pure Theory of Law, but also in the Kelsenian concepts and doctrines--ranging from legal power to centralized constitutional review--that have profoundly affected the way jurists look at the law.

Three papers in the present volume stem from Kelsen himself. Two are statements in which he takes stock-one looking back, from 1923, to the beginnings of the Pure Theory of Law, and a second, ten years later, assessing the role of neo-Kantianism, and of Hermann Cohen's philosophy in particular, in the Pure Theory; the third of Kelsen's own papers is his last major statement in defence of monism in public international law. The other papers in the volume reflect, fairly clearly we think, Kelsen's remarkable influence. It is equally clear that none of these authors slavishly follows Kelsen. Rather, through their rigorous judgments on Kelsen's work and their own development of concepts and doctrines that stem in part from that work, they pay Kelsen the high compliment of a serious and critical reception.

In selecting material for the volume, always with an eye to the various rubrics we had established, we have chosen papers by established writers in the field as well as by promising younger writers. Several papers were written especially for the volume, and in this connection we should like to acknowledge José Juan Moreso (Barcelona) and Pablo E. Navarro (Buenos Aires), Geert Edel (Bonn), Neil MacCormick (Edinburgh), Dick W.P. Ruiter (Enschede, Holland), and Deryck Beyleveld and Roger Brownsword (Sheffield). Other pieces are reworked versions of . . .

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