On Hart's Way Out: Scott J. Shapiro

Legal Theory 4 (4):469-507 (1998)


It is hard to think of a more banal statement one could make about the law than to say that it necessarily claims legal authority to govern conduct. What, after all, is a legal institution if not an entity that purports to have the legal power to create rules, confer rights, and impose obligations? Whether legal institutions necessarily claim the moral authority to exercise their legal powers is another question entirely. Some legal theorists have thought that they do—others have not been so sure. But no one has ever denied that the law holds itself out as having the legal authority to tell us what we may or may not do.

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