January 7th, 2013
The Legal Theory Blog has an interesting discussion about the nature of law. An excerpt:
Historically, the answer to the question, “What is law?,” is thought to have two competing answers. The classical answer is provided by natural law theory, which is frequently characterized as asserting that there is an essential relationship between law and morality or justice. The modern answer is provided by legal positivism, which, as developed by John Austin, asserted that law is the command of the sovereign backed by the threat of punishment.
Contemporary debates over the nature of law focus on a revised set of positions. Legal positivism is represented by analytic legal positivists, like H.L.A. Hart, Joseph Raz, and Jules Coleman. The natural law tradition is defended by John Finnis. And a new position, interpretivism is represented by Ronald Dworkin.
This Lexicon entry maps the territory of the “What is Law?” controversy, and provides introductory sketches of the major positions.
This question has attracted increasing attention from scholars of the Jewish legal tradition. Seminal contributions include Hanina Ben-Menahem, Judicial Deviation in Talmudic Law: Governed by Men, Not by Rules; Moshe Halbertal, Interpretive Revolutions in the Making (Hebrew); and Yair Lorberbaum, Image of God: Halakhah and Aggadah.