The relationship between morality and law is perhaps the fundamental issue in modern Western legal theory. For centuries, legal philosophers have framed this issue in terms of a debate between natural lawyers and positivists. Natural law approaches have often been associated with religious belief. Secularization of intellectual discourse has led to increasing use of “morality” rather than natural law as the counterpoint to positive law.

H. L. A. Hart's Contribution

Perhaps the most influential twentieth-century positivist was H. L. A. Hart (1907–1992). In his seminal work,The Concept of Law (1961), Hart rejected views of the early English positivists John Austin (1790–1859) and Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) that the law of the nation-state is a species of order or command backed by sanctions. He also distinguished his position from ...

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