• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Luhmann, Niklas (1927–1998)

Niklas Luhmann's major contribution to sociolegal scholarship was to translate the notion of legal positivism into sociological terms. “There is only positive law, that is, law decided exclusively within the legal system itself. This means at the same time that the decision between right and wrong can be taken only within the legal system itself” (Luhmann 1992: 145). He viewed law, and all of the other communication systems in society, as forging its own identity in an environment that it constructed. Law itself, and not any universal morality, rationality, or scientific facts, validated and legitimized all legal arguments and decisions.

Luhmann studied law at Freiburg from 1946 to 1949, but he did not practice as a lawyer, nor did he go straight into an academic career. ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles