The Critical Legal Science of Hans Kelsen by niusheng11


									(1990) 17(3) Journal of Law and Society 273-308

                                       The Critical Legal Science of Hans Kelsen

                                                             IAIN STEWART

Fearing the outcome if the secret police found it in his house, the sacked law professor wrapped his
old service revolver in a banana skin and plopped it into the Rhine. He escaped with his family to
Prague, where, at his first lecture, fascists packed the hall and shouted: „Everybody except Jews
and communists, out!‟ Those students who remained were beaten up. He continued to teach, under
police protection. Plans of a plot to assassinate him were discovered by a lecture theatre cleaner.
He brought his family out, to the USA, where he was allowed a chair of political science but not of
     Hans Kelsen, advisor to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, author of the Austrian Constitution,
and having experienced many kinds of academic and political victimisation—of all major legal
theorists the most bitterly acquainted with political realities—is an implausible perpetrator of
„formalism‟.2 Yet his main creation, the „pure theory of law‟, is both recognised world-wide as a
major theory of law3 and placed in the „born so beautiful‟ basket as the paradigm case of
formalistic irrelevance4. As Gurvitch formulates the charge:
          According to this doctrine, law, being nothing but a pure norm, admits only a normative and
          formalistic method of study, every other method being destructive of the very object of research.
          That is why sociology cannot study law and the „science of law‟ cannot take account of social

Even for so analytical a mind as Hart, the pure theory pays far too little attention to the
circumstances under which laws are created and „whether they are recognised as authoritative and
by whom‟.6 Yet, to Kelsen, of all charges levelled against the pure theory, that of formalism was
the „stupidest‟.7 I will argue that, when Kelsen‟s philosophical standpoint is understood, the
question of formalism emerges on several levels. First, in relation to its subject matter the theory is
intended to be anti-[274]formalistic. Second, within the chosen kind of philosophical framework a
general theory is necessarily formalistic. Third, arguably the philosophical framework itself is
formalistic and communicates this formalism to the theory.
     While recent interest in the pure theory is found mainly among analytical philosophers8, as an
attempt to bring the study of law to the level of a critical legal science—a project, moreover, that
fell apart in Kelsen‟s own hands—the pure theory‟s aims and fate are very relevant to attempts to
construct a critical legal science today.
     Yet there is no survey of Kelsen‟s work as a whole, in any language. 9 The task of survey is
daunting. Kelsen wrote over 300 books and articles, in three languages.10 Most that are not in
English have not been translated and the existing translations vary in reliability (although their
 Senior Lecturer and Head, School of Law, Macquarie University, Sydney 2109.

This paper is the fourth in a series dealing with the work of theorists who have substantially influenced contemporary understanding of law and
society. The series will be of interest to both students and specialists.

[NOTE TO THIS TEXT: The present text is derived from my disk copy; the text printed in the Journal of Law and Society incorporates
some stylistic changes preferred by the publisher, which do not affect the meaning. Were I to update the article, I would refer to the
now published translations of Kelsen’s Reine Rechtslehre (first edition) and Allgemeine Theorie der Normen. I would translate
‘Verfassung im materiellen Sinne’ as ‘constitution in the substantive sense’ (and not ‘in the material sense’). I would also refer to a later
article of mine on Kelsen:               ‘Kelsen Tomorrow’ (1998) 51 Current Legal Problems 181-204 (also at:: I.S. 10.02.02]
formulaic style is not due to the translators).11 Writings about Kelsen‟s work form an equally long
list and are in several languages.12 Attention here will focus on Kelsen‟s writings on legal theory,
leaving aside his many works on justice, public international law13 or Austrian law. Nor will the
work of other members of the „Vienna School‟ be considered on its own account.14
      No single work of Kelsen‟s contains a final overall statement of the pure theory. The last
overall statement is the second edition, 1960, of Reine Rechtslehre, translated as Pure Theory of
Law. By 1962, however, the theory‟s keystone, the concept of a „basic norm‟, had fallen apart in
Kelsen‟s hands. Rather than restate the theory accordingly, he tried to save the concept in
weakened form. Then he moved up a level, to general theory of norms. He died in Berkeley,
California, on 19 April 1973, leaving a rambling text published posthumously as Allgemeine
Theorie der Normen (General Theory of Norms). Although this book reformulates many of the
arguments of Reine Rechtslehre, embracing the new version of the „basic norm‟ concept, it neither
offers a completed general theory of norms nor locates the pure theory of law within such a theory.
Nevertheless, it comes close enough to doing these things for an article such as this to outline
Kelsen‟s theoretical work according to such a pattern. In doing so, I will avoid questions of the
development of the pure theory except so far as they impinge on understanding its final form.

                                     KELSEN‟S BACKGROUND

Hans Kelsen was born in Prague on 11 October 1881 and raised in Vienna. His parents were Jews
of the German-speaking working class. The boy dreamed of taking a degree in philosophy,
mathematics and physics. The combination of his social background with such a degree, however,
pointed to a career in schoolteaching and, without enthusiasm, he enrolled at the University of
Vienna in law. That he could not become a philosopher, he regretted for the rest of his life. After
obtaining his doctorate, Kelsen became interested in the nature of legal norms and wrote a higher
doctorate on this and other major issues in legal theory15, then began to teach at the University.
     Cosmopolitan, bureaucratic and rich as its cream cakes, dual-imperial [275] Vienna bestrode
Central Europe with a web of laws that a medley of class and ethnic conflicts within and the Great
War without would shred. Political thought rang the changes from feudalism through constitutional
monarchy and liberalism to socialism; fascism would follow. In religion, catholicism dominated
protestantism and judaism. This unstable social variety pressured liberal high culture toward
relativism: into neo-Kantianism, logical positivism, empiriocriticism, physical relativity theory,
psychoanalysis, tonal music and satire.
     Relativism encouraged abstraction: to cope with the variety, theory needed to rise beyond it.
At the same time, the relativity was far from static: the deep historical consciousness that through
the nineteenth century had expressed German plans for unity bled over into disintegrating Austria-
Hungary. Having found Hegel both too feudal and too vulnerable to Marx‟s inversion, German-
speaking liberals went back to Kant. Yet the return could not be simple. Kant‟s sense of
historicity, as Hegel had pointed out, was too weak for an age needing to understand deep
transformations of social structures. A first problem, then, was the relation between historicity and
„science‟ (Wissenschaft—the German word refers to any kind of systematic enquiry).
     Linked with this was a further problem, concerning „is‟ and „ought‟. Kant maintained the
distinction between theoretical reason, which states what is, and practical reason, which states what
ought to be. Feudal and especially catholic idealism had preached their unity, so that whatever
exists is presumably good. A key principle of the Enlightenment, from Hume‟s Scotland into the
German-speaking lands, was to divide them, so that statements of what is and of what ought to be
are different kinds of statement, and accordingly neither can follow from the other. A strong sense
of historicity, on the other hand, includes a stress on practice, hence on the coexistence of fact and
value, fact and meaning—which is next to reasserting their unity.
     The problem of reconciling historism with the is/ought dichotomy produced a powerful debate
on the identities of the sciences. The neo-Kantians, as they came to be called, distinguished
between two kinds of science: the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and the sciences of mind
(Geisteswissenschaften) or culture (Kulturwissenschaften). In terms of the relation between reason
and history, the former were to be concerned with material facts, the latter with meanings; or the
former with regularities, the latter with individual events. In terms of separating „is‟ and „ought‟,
the former were to be concerned with material facts, the latter with values.
     Each way of making the distinction also had two versions: whether the difference lay in the
perspectives through which the sciences approached their subject matter or in the subject matter
itself. Kelsen took the latter view, holding that law is evidently one of the „social orders‟, i.e.
systems of „oughts‟, and that therefore its study cannot be a natural science. 16 It might then be a
science of mind or culture. But, in that case, if the aim is to describe the „oughts‟ of law, can there
be such an „is‟ of „oughts‟ without infringing the rule against mixing „is‟ statements and „ought‟
     [276] This problem was either abolished or made worse by logical positivism, which denied
the very existence of practical reason. It held that only factual statements could be rational; value
statements were merely emotive. This left no room for a science of „oughts‟, hence apparently for
a science of law. Or, if a science of law was possible in these terms, could it be fully compatible
with the other sciences within the logical-positivist doctrine of „unified science‟?
     Such debates challenged the discipline of law to reforge its identity as a science. Kelsen was
outstanding among those who took on the challenge.

                              KANT AND THE PURITY OF IS FROM OUGHT

In constructing his legal theory and even when attempting a general theory of norms, Kelsen is
concerned less to philosophise than to clothe his theory in elements of philosophy bought off the
peg. Such an attitude is neither wrong nor even inferior; enquiry has to stop somewhere in the
refinement of premisses as well as in the search for evidence, if it is to bring the two into relation. 17
All the same, the cryptic nature of many of Kelsen‟s indications of his philosophical debts makes it
hard to ascertain whether the clothes he bought fit well or even match.
     A starting point is that Kelsen many times classifies himself as an heir of Kant. The first
edition, 1934, of Reine Rechtslehre begins:
       It is more than two decades since I undertook the development of a pure theory of law, that is, a
       theory of law purified of all political ideology and all natural-scientific elements and conscious of its
       particular character because conscious of the particular laws governing its object. Right from the
       start, therefore, my aim was to raise jurisprudence, which openly or covertly was almost completely
       wrapped up in legal-political argumentation [Raisonnement], to the level of a genuine science, a
       science of mind [Geistes-Wissenschaft].18

In the passage out of „naïve, prescientific thinking‟19, Kelsen finds Kant only half-heartedly
critical20 and tests the capacity of a range of neo-Kantian and related philosophical tendencies—
principally the ideas of Rickert, Hermann Cohen and Husserl.21 Yet he declines to get closely
involved in these debates, preferring to count it undeniable that the reality of law is not simply
natural but also involves meanings, all or most of which are oughts, and then to go his own way. 22
The area in which he draws the border is indicated by his view that the idea of legal science as a
science of mind does not suppose complete free will, since the idea of responsibility presupposes
causal constraint.23
     Nonetheless, Kelsen appears to adopt two key Kantian conceptions: „critique‟ and „purity‟.
     Kant‟s main books offer „critiques‟, as he terms them, of modes of thought. He understands
„critique‟ not as a merely negative exercise but as a process in which a mode of thought is to be
made as coherent as possible. The focus is on the mode of thought as such. There is no appeal
below thought to experience, nor above thought to religion. Critique is reflection on the very forms
of a mode of thought, with the aim of maximising the mode‟s capacities. [277] Kelsen embarks on
a critique, in this sense, of existing legal theory, later of existing general theory of norms.
     Kant‟s idea of purity follows from his firm adherence to the logical law of identity, that each
thing is what it is and not something else. Any statement of something, therefore, must state it as
what it is and without admixture. Such a statement will be „pure‟. Kelsen is concerned with such
purity in two major directions: the first is purity of description (the realm of „is‟) from prescription
(the realm of „ought‟).
     Following Hume24, then Kant, but with still greater emphasis, Kelsen insists that statements of
what is and of what ought to be must not be mixed.25 For Kelsen, the difference between „is‟ and
„ought‟ is simply obvious and cannot be explained. One and the same entity may be considered
now in terms of „is‟, that it exists or does not exist, and now in terms of „ought‟, that it ought or
ought not to be; but the two „modes‟ must not be mixed together. The entity that may be
considered in terms of either mode is a „modally indifferent substratum‟ underlying the two modes.
To say that an „is‟ corresponds to an „ought‟—for example, that a person‟s behaviour conforms to a
norm—is to state a correspondence not between the behaviour and the „ought‟ form but between
the behaviour as content of an „is‟ and as content of an „ought‟. Neither mode however has any
necessary content: e.g. a legal „ought‟ does not necessarily contain any moral „ought‟.26
     One of the grounds on which Kelsen takes this strong view is that he makes a major departure
from Kant, in the direction of logical positivism. Kant gives reason two roles: theoretical reason
concerns description („is‟) and is a function of thought, while practical reason concerns prescription
(„ought‟) and is a function of will. Kelsen, however, denies the existence of practical reason.27
Thought and will are „two quite different mental functions‟. There are „acts of thought‟, whose
meaning is a descriptive statement, and „acts of will‟, whose meaning is an ought. Although the
two kinds of meaning are bound up with each other, in that a statement is usually made with a
purpose and an ought contains a conceptualisation of the behaviour to which it may apply. 28 The
meanings may be expressed in various ways—as written or spoken words, or as a gesture (e.g.
hands raised in voting, a police officer directing traffic) or other nonverbal kind of symbol (e.g. a
traffic light); or even as being „tacitly presupposed‟, such as the norm of derogation that a later
norm derogates from an earlier.29 Kelsen‟s meaning of „ought‟ is broad: he specifies that it shall
include not only commands or orders, but also authorisation, permission and derogation.30
Considered grammatically, words expressing an ought will often be in the imperative mood. But
no particular verbal formula is necessary and sometimes the verbal form can mislead: especially,
an ought may be expressed in the indicative mood—for example, „Theft will be punished with
imprisonment‟.31 Yet the fact that is the act of thought or will is not the same as the fact that is the
mode of expression: e.g. an act of will, whose meaning is an ought, is not the same as a speech act
expressing that meaning.32
     [278] All the same, the difference between „is‟ and „ought‟ is not between two modes of
reason but between reason itself (corresponding to Kant‟s theoretical reason, or theoretical aspect
of reason) and emotion. This strong version of the „is/ought‟ division particularly affects what is
admissible as „science (Wissenschaft)‟. If science is already defined as a rational enterprise,
questions of what is, being rational, can be discussed in science while questions of what ought to
be, since they are irrational, cannot. Indeed, to allow discussion of „ought‟ to affect discussion of
„is‟ would be not science but „ideology‟. Science must be kept pure of ideology.33
     A first task is to fence legal science against other sciences dealing with connected subject
matters—psychology, sociology, ethics and political theory. The pure theory of law
       undertakes to delimit the cognition of law against these disciplines, not because it ignores or denies
       the connection, but because it wishes to avoid the uncritical mixture of methodologically different
       disciplines (methodological syncretism) which obscures the essence of the science of law and
       obliterates the limits imposed upon it by the nature of its subject matter. 34

                                              SCIENCE OF OUGHT

At this point it will be helpful to make explicit a concept that in Kelsen is only implicit: the
concept of a science of ought. This makes it possible to identify in Kelsen‟s perspective the
following hierarchy of sciences. First, science in general divides into sciences of nature and
sciences of mind. Second, sciences of mind—the neo-Kantian concept being modified to
accommodate the logical-positivist denial that the practical can be rational—divide into sciences of
is and sciences of ought. Third, since only some oughts are valid (see below), hence are norms,
sciences of ought divide into sciences of norms, which Kelsen calls „normative sciences‟, and
sciences of other kinds of ought. The normative sciences are „pure‟ in the sense that they describe
oughts without subscribing to or evaluating them. Fourth, normative sciences divide into legal
science, the study of legal norms, and ethics, the study of moral norms. Thus the pure theory of
law is normative science of law.35
      Kelsen‟s greatest difficulty is: how, in these terms, can there be a science (a rational
description) of „oughts‟? A strong version of the is/ought division implies that there cannot: that
either (as Stammler had concluded) science of ought must be confined to practical reason, as
systematic evaluation of oughts36, or (as in logical positivism), if reason is only cognitive, any
science of mind can describe acts of will but not their meanings, can only be psychology.37 Yet
Kelsen is unwilling to go all the way with logical positivism and reduce ought to is. 38 For him,
oughts may be irrational but they are not illusory. In neo-Kantianism he found another resource.
      In Kant‟s view, we know things not as they may be „in themselves‟, independently of
knowledge, but only as they appear to us. (The question of how we can then be sure there is any
reality at all „out there‟, independently of [279] our knowledge, plagued the neo-Kantians.)
Things‟ appearance to us is as material provided by the senses that is moulded under forms of
thought: material as so moulded is a „concept‟. Most of the forms (moulds) are constructed by us.
But the most universal forms, which Kant calls „categories‟, are innate.
      One of Kant‟s „categories‟ is that of „is (Sein)‟, under which descriptions are constructed. How
is it possible to state the is of an ought? Now, Kant had declared that his list of „categories‟ was not
closed. Very well, said the neo-Kantian sociologist Simmel, in working out how there could be
description of social values: let us add a new category, „ought (Sollen)‟, under which it will be
possible to describe oughts.39 Kelsen adopts Simmel‟s new category.40
      Since, in Kant, the operation of a category is mediated through a „schema (Schema)‟, Kelsen
has the category of ought operate partly through the „schema‟ of „norm‟. 41 The new category and
schema permit a kind of science in which norms may be described without any admixture of
evaluation. Kelsen calls this „normative science‟.42 Sociology, as well as psychology, ethnology43
and history, are to concern themselves with understanding behaviour in terms of causality,
including motivation. Where behaviour is related to meanings that are norms, those meanings are
to be understood by the normative sciences of law and ethics.44
      The word „norm‟ (from Latin, norma) often means descriptive regularity, as when one says
that a type of behaviour „is the norm‟ (cp. „is normal‟). Kelsen does not use this sense. A second
sense is prescriptive: when one speaks of „social norms‟, one means by a „norm‟ any kind of
prescription. For this concept, Kelsen prefers to speak of an „ought‟.
      Kelsen then speaks of both „ought‟ and „norm‟ in two senses: as subject matter of science and
as descriptive construct in science. In the first sense, he refers simply to an ought or a norm. In the
second sense, he speaks of a „proposition (Satz)‟. Thus an „ought (Sollen)‟ is described in an
„ought proposition (Sollsatz)‟, a „legal norm (Rechtsnorm)‟ in a „legal proposition (Rechtssatz)‟ and
a „moral norm (Moralnorm)‟ in an „ethical proposition (Satz der Ethik)‟.45 This is Kelsen‟s formal
terminology, but, since in Kantian terms a subject matter is known only as it appears, he usually
speaks of an „ought‟ or a „norm‟ when he means the ought or norm as it appears in a proposition.
This double usage is confusing, but Kelsen defends it as a widely established practice: „logic
(Logik)‟, for example, is both the operation of a kind of norm and the study of their operation46 (cp.,
in English, „law‟).
     With the word „normative‟, however, Kelsen is more selective. While its usual meaning is
prescriptive, corresponding to his sense of „norm‟ as subject matter, he uses it in a sense
corresponding to his sense of „norm‟ as description. Normative science, under the category of
ought, constructs norms in the second sense as descriptions of norms in the first sense.47
     Next, Kelsen stresses that, since natural science describes facts while normative science
describes norms, the two forms of science must operate according to different principles. Natural
science operates according to the principle of causality. By analogy, Kelsen maintains, normative
science can [280] operate according to a principle of „imputation (Zurechnung)‟. A cause is
conditionally related to an effect as its consequence—if A (cause) is, then B (effect) will be; B is
caused by A. Thus: if (A) a brick hits Jane‟s head, then (B) Jane will be injured. Likewise, a
delict48 can be conditionally related to a sanction as its consequence—if A (delict) is, then B
(sanction) ought to be; B is „imputed‟ to A. Thus: if (A) John threw the brick, then (B) John ought
to be imprisoned. To speak of „imputation‟ here is similar to speaking of responsibility—here, that
John is responsible for the damage to Jane.49 The legal scientist makes the imputation, just as the
natural scientist understands a physical connection as causal. Imputation means „every connection
of a human behaviour with the condition under which it is commanded or prohibited in a norm‟.50
In the case of morality, however, imputation is a two-stage affair: while a legal norm is attached
directly to a negative, coercive sanction (such as imprisonment), a moral norm is attached directly
to a positive, noncoercive sanction (such as the expression of approval) and indirectly to the
negative form of that sanction (such as the expression of disapproval); imputation, concerning a
moral norm, has to reach to the negative form.
     Pursuing the analogy, Kelsen holds that, as in natural science causal relations may be stated in
a „law of nature (Naturgesetz)‟, so in normative science relations of imputation may be stated in a
„law of law (Rechtsgesetz)‟ or „law of morality (Moralgesetz)‟; the legal or moral form, like the
natural, being formulated probabilistically.51 However, the analogy is only partial: while the law
of nature refers to unending chains of causation, the law of law or of morality refers to isolated
relations.52 The law of law or of morality is the form taken by the legal or moral proposition.53
     The distinction between causal sciences, grounded in the principle of causality, and normative
sciences, grounded in the principle of imputation, cuts across the other distinctions between
sciences. Accordingly, Kelsen can divide the social sciences into causal social sciences, such as
sociology, and the normative social sciences, such as legal science and ethics.54 In relation to law,
if social sciences follow the principle of causality alone, they will fail to take account of norms; if
they also follow the principle of imputation, they will to that extent be legal science or ethics. 55
     Other norms and their study belong to logic and technology (Technik). Since „ought‟ is not a
relation, a norm is not a relation between a means and an end. A relation between a means and an
end is causal. An act of will, which is a psychological fact, may be a means, but the meaning of
that act, which is an „ought‟ or norm, cannot be a means or an end. The question „What ought I to
do?‟ belongs to legal science or ethics; the question „What must I do, to realise a particular end?‟
belongs to technology.56
     Now, it is far from clear in what sense the „proposition‟ is descriptive. For, in addition to
saying that the difference between norm and proposition is that the latter describes the former,
Kelsen gives as examples the difference „between a law published in the official legal gazette and a
scientific commentary on that law‟ or „between the Criminal Code and a textbook on criminal
law‟.57 The [281] examples state a difference without really defining it. Kelsen also says that the
description might be called „interpretation‟, but maintains that this „non-authentic‟, merely
descriptive interpretation by the legal scientist is quite different in principle from the legal organ‟s
„authentic‟, law-creating interpretation.58 If the proposition is formulated as a „law‟, then
       It is the task of the science of law to represent the law of a community, i.e. the material produced by
       the legal authority in the law-making procedure, in the form of statements to the effect that „if such
       and such conditions are fulfilled, then such and such a sanction shall follow‟. 59

The spirit appears to be that legal science, constructing legal propositions not legal norms, „has to
know the law—as it were from the outside—and to describe it‟60. Legal science „endeavours to
comprehend its object “legally”, namely from the standpoint of the law‟—that is, as a legal norm or
as content of a legal norm.61
     „Imputation‟ is equally ambiguous. Up to the 1930s, Kelsen understands it as a category in the
Kantian sense, on analogy with Kant‟s category of causality. Under Kantian categories, reality is
constructed: the categories are not generalisations from experience. In Hume, however, causality
is a generalisation from experience. And Kelsen moves toward a Humean understanding of
causality, at the same time as denying that knowledge of oughts is experiential: the analogue loses
its parent.62
     It appears that, in Kelsen‟s conception of science, more than one idea of description is
involved. At least three ideas of description were available to him: they may be distinguished, if
rather metaphorically, as „refractive‟, „reflective‟ and „interpretive‟.           In objective-idealist
philosophy, such as Christianity, it is believed that the basis of reality is ideal forms existing prior
to knowledge. The particular entities in the world are only refractions of the ideal forms, e.g. a
particular man exists only as a refraction of the ideal man. To describe a particular entity is to
reproduce the refraction, as e.g. a biblical scholar may refract a meaning in the Bible. The method
is exegesis. In materialist philosophy, the basis of reality is physical things. To describe them is to
have a reflection of them in the mind. The method is observation. In both refractive and reflective
description, the construction of reality is supposedly determined by the form of the original.
     One can observe both inanimate and animate objects, such as human beings in their behaviour.
But a science of mind is not concerned solely with behaviour, understood causally. The neo-
Kantian sociology of Max Weber, for example, insists that one must first observe the behaviour and
then understand it according to the meanings that the actors attach to it, which Weber terms the
„subjective meaning‟ of the behaviour—distinct from the „objective‟ meaning constructed in
science.63 The method is interpretive understanding. This differs from exegesis in that, although in
both cases the subject matter is meanings, in interpretive understanding the actor‟s frame of
reference need not be adopted by the observer, who may reconstruct the actor‟s meanings in any of
a theoretically infinite number of alternative frames.
     [282] Now, if the difference between norm and proposition is only that the norm is created by
legal authority while the proposition is not, the proposition reproducing the norm will remain
within the legal authority‟s frame of reference; the description will be refractive. If however the
difference between norm and law (law of law or of morality) involves reconstruction of the norm in
another frame of reference, the description will be interpretive. Yet we shall see in a while that
Kelsen‟s way of combining the two modes of description is curious.64

                                    A „PURE PART‟ OF LEGAL SCIENCE
The second type of purity with which Kelsen is concerned is purity of the form of knowledge from
empirical content.
     Since, for Kant, the „categories‟ and not any supposedly given „facts‟ are the foundations of
thought, any mode of enquiry can be systematic—i.e. can be a science—only if its systematic
character is established in advance of empirical investigation. It is therefore necessary, in
beginning to construct a particular science, to establish a set of basic forms that the science will
apply. This set Kant calls the „metaphysical bases‟ of the science. 65 Their formulation, he calls
(speaking of natural science) the „pure part‟ of the science—„pure‟ in the sense that it does not yet
have any sensuous admixture, any empirical content. This should be stated separately from the
later, „empirical‟ part of the science, in which the forms established in the pure part are applied to
empirical material so as to compose concepts.66 Thus the purpose of constructing a pure part of a
science, far from being to evade empirical considerations, is precisely to make empirical enquiry
     Kelsen states that the pure theory provides „the fundamental principles by means of which any
legal order can be comprehended‟68 and that it is a „general jurisprudence‟ furnishing „the basic
conceptions that enable us to master any law‟ and accordingly serving as „the theoretical basis for
all other branches of jurisprudence‟ such as „dogmatic‟ (i.e. doctrinalist), historical or comparative
jurisprudence69, and even sociology of law70. The theory
       has—and by its very nature must have—a formalistic character. This does not mean—as it is
       sometimes misunderstood—that the Pure Theory of Law considers the contents of the legal norms as
       irrelevant. It means only that the concepts defined by the theory must hold what is common to all
       positive legal orders, not what separates them from each other. „Formalism‟ can be no objection to a
       general theory of law [...]71

Precisely in this indispensable „formalism‟, the pure theory states the common features of all
species of law without supposing an eternal essence of law, as do theories of natural law.72
      The pure theory is therefore „pure‟ in two senses. Normative science as such is „pure‟ in the
first sense, of being free from considerations of evaluation. Each normative science then divides, in
Kantian terms, into a „pure part‟ and an „empirical part‟. The pure theory of law is offered as the
pure part of a normative science of law. It is, Kelsen insists, a pure theory of law, not a theory
[283] of pure law.73 Causal analysis belongs to the empirical part: it is not to be substituted for but
added to normative interpretation.74 The causal element in the test of effectiveness (below) is not
itself causal analysis but an envisaging of a respect in which causal analysis will be required. The
answer to Hart‟s criticism is that the pure part of the science identifies law and the empirical part
can then trace the connections of origin and effect.75
      Such is Kelsen‟s intention. So far as he envisages reflective or interpretive description, the
pure part may remain independent of the material to be described. Yet, so far as he retains
refractive description, the bases of the science remain within the terms of the subject matter and a
division between pure and empirical parts of the science is not feasible.

                                 THE NORM AS „OBJECTIVE MEANING‟

Kelsen‟s second departure from Weber concerns objectivity of meanings. Kelsen defines an ought
as „the meaning of an act of will‟. Presumably, this will be a „subjective meaning‟ in Weber‟s
sense. Thus, Kelsen supposes, one might observe that people in a room periodically raise their
hands and one could record the statistical regularities of the hand-raising. But one will understand
the hand-raising as voting only if one also, through interpretive understanding, examines the
meanings that the actors attach to their behaviour. So far, Kelsen is with Weber.76
     Weber would then have said that these subjective meaning might include the actors‟ belief that
the meaning is obligatory upon them. Science should record that belief—but in Weber‟s view
science has no business deciding whether that belief is true. Weber firmly declines to suppose „an
objectively `correct‟ meaning or one which is „true‟ in some metaphysical sense‟. 77 For him,
science may be „objective‟ through excluding ideology, yet not even science can claim absolute
      But Kelsen asserts that the voting can be understood as legislation only when the subjective
meaning of the hand-raising is also understood as „its objective meaning, that is, the meaning the
act has according to the law‟.78 Now, Kelsen might be taking law here as his frame of reference,
just as Weber takes the frame of reference of his sociology. But that would be to think within the
law, not to think in terms of a legal science. Rather, it seems, Kelsen is supposing within his legal
science that legal meanings are „objective‟ on their own account. Why should he suppose that?
      Two reasons may be found. First, that it seemed obvious. In constructing a general theory of
law, Kelsen‟s principal concern is with the Romanist tradition, in which most Western legal
systems are found. In that tradition, „law (German, Recht)‟ in a general sense is readily
characterised as „objective (objektives Recht)‟, as distinct from a „subjective‟ category (subjektives
Recht) corresponding to „rights‟. In English translation, „law‟ no longer appears in association with
an explicit claim of objectivity and the contrast between objective and subjective is lost.
      [284] Secondly, however, Kelsen offers an argument: the „objective character‟ of a norm is
manifest in the fact that the norm not only binds the addressee even if the addressee does not know
or think about it but also continues to exist even after the will whose subjective meaning it is has
ceased. What matters is the view of an observer to whom the norm is not addressed, such as a legal
scientist.79 Otherwise, Kelsen argues against Weber, a delict committed when the actor did not
know of the legal norm characterising such behaviour as delictual would fall outside the legal-
scientific definition of law.80 Likewise, it seems, Kelsen worries that bindingness would cease as
soon as the legislator‟s mind turned to another topic. But that is a political consideration—unless
the legal scientist‟s concern is with the legislator‟s view of the consequences of the temporariness
of an act of will. Even so, the legal scientist ordinarily will be an addressee of any general legal
      It is helpful to see how Kelsen first came to the issue. Historically, he finds, one way to
conceive of a norm as objective has been to attribute it to some kind of suprahuman subject as its
author. This could be „God‟, or personifications of „Nature‟, „Reason‟ or „the State‟. Most of these
are obviously excluded by Kant‟s ban on transcendence. In his first major work, however, Kelsen
still argues that the „modern state‟ is „an entirely extra-individual authority‟ which „fulfils its
obligating function independently of the will of the individual‟, so that the positive law of which it
is the author is „objective‟ in existing „over and above human beings, independent of the subjective
feelings of the individual‟. Consequently that law can be represented in legal science only by an
objectivistic method that will present it as „objective‟ and entirely „heteronomous‟. It cannot be
represented accurately by a subjectivistic method, which would make legal norms appear, like
moral norms, as „subjective‟ and „autonomous‟, deriving their bindingness merely from the
individual‟s „recognition‟ of them as obligating. Indeed, from a subjectivistic standpoint the
apparent objectivity of legal norms appears as nothing but a product of „projection‟ or
„objectivation‟; that being false, the way law appears from a subjectivistic standpoint is „fiction‟.81
      Kelsen was soon unhappy with this: personification of the state still smacked of
transcendence. He leapt to a reviewer‟s mention of the philosophy of Hermann Cohen, where the
state appears not as actually personified but as an explicitly fictional personification of the legal
order.82 The state would appear, to be precise, as a „point of imputation‟; from the standpoint of
normative science, state and law are the same thing.83 The identity of state and law will concern us
later. What is important here is that, although the state is reduced to a point of imputation, it
remains the author of „objective‟ norms. Moreover—just as when it was suprahuman—as a point
of imputation, it does not appear as an actor. Consequently the meanings of its acts of will, which
are legal norms, are not available for interpretive understanding. I will return to this.

                                      [285] THE LEGAL ORDER

1. Orders of norms

An ought is a „norm‟ if it is valid. Norms in this sense may be followed, violated or applied. 84 To
speak of validity here is to say that the ought occurs not singly but in some kind of order. 85 Kelsen
distinguishes two possible types of order, which he calls „static‟ and „dynamic‟.86 In „static‟ order,
norms are hierarchised in a relation of general to particular. Thus, from the relatively general moral
norm „Love your neighbour‟ may be deduced the relatively particular norm „John ought to love his
neighbour Jane‟. Each new norm is derived from the one „above‟ it by a purely intellectual
operation. The relation between the norms is one of logical validity—or would be, were there such
a thing as practical reason.87
     Many have believed that positive legal norms are ordered statically. But the idea of simple
logical deduction could not have convinced someone so well acquainted with bureaucracy as
Kelsen. Nor was the idea of simple deduction from a norm made in Vienna to a norm applicable to
provincial peasants convincing Ehrlich, whose „free law theory (Freirechtslehre)‟ of judicial
decision88 paralleled the attention to judicial policy developed by Gény in France and in American
„legal realism‟ and „sociological jurisprudence‟.
     Kelsen‟s Viennese colleague Merkl developed, and Kelsen adopted, a model of legal order as
dynamic hierarchy, or „steps and stairs (Stufenbau)‟. In this model, a positive legal order is
conceived as a chain of authorisations addressed to organs of the state. The „higher‟ organ cannot
foresee all circumstances requiring regulation and must delegate power, with discretion, to a
„lower‟ organ. The higher organ creates a „higher‟ norm authorising the lower organ to create not a
particular „lower‟ norm (in which case there would be no point in the delegating) but a lower norm
of a certain kind and perhaps also through a certain procedure. Thus, in the most familiar case, the
constitution authorises the legislature to create statutes, which authorise the higher executive organs
to create regulations, which authorise lower executive organs to create lesser regulations.
Expressed more precisely: each higher norm recognises the act of will of the lower organ—or
recognises custom—as a „law-creating fact‟. Since there is a reference to acts, at no stage is law-
creation a matter simply of logical deduction. The new norm is not a product of logic, nor even a
product of knowledge—since knowledge of the earlier law, however ambiguous, does not produce
a new norm. The organ‟s act of will draws on both the authorising norm and other sources,
including norms drawn from morality and politics; however, the moral and political norms do not
thereby become part of the legal order.
     The higher and lower legal norms stand in a relation of „validity‟ in the sense that the higher
norm authorised the creation of the lower norm. In dynamic order a norm „is not valid because it
has a certain content‟ but „because it is created in a certain way‟; in principle, it may have any
content at all, although sometimes a higher norm prescribes that lower norms must or must not
have certain contents.89 The legal order contains both general and individual [286] norms: Kelsen
rejects both the European doctrine that only general norms are law, which implies that judges do
not make law but only apply it, as well as the extreme American legal-realist doctrine that only the
courts create law, statute being merely a source; there is no line to be drawn between law-creation
and law-application.90 For this reason, a norm considered void—for example, because
unconstitutional—is void only when declared so by a court of final jurisdiction.91 „The doctrine of
the hierarchy of the legal order‟, in short, „comprehends the law in motion, in its perpetually
renewed process of self-regeneration.‟92
     The model for „validity‟ in this „dynamic‟ sense is the sense of „validity‟ familiar from
constitutional and administrative law: one can readily see how the idea of a dynamic legal order
expresses, from the standpoint of legal normative science, the form of the modern, bureaucratic
state. However, the model is intended to be applicable to any „form of state‟: democracy or
autocracy, republic or monarchy.93
     Custom does not fit readily into Kelsen‟s picture. He supposes that regular behaviour can give
rise to a collective will that it is right, although the subjective meaning of that act of will can
become its objective meaning only if a higher norm institutes custom as a law-creating fact,
possibly as the fundamental law-creating fact.94 This way of incorporating customary law into the
picture of dynamic order avoids supposing a romantic „national spirit‟ that recognises customary
behaviour95, yet it fails to address the problems that all philosophical positivists have with the idea
of customary law: of how an ought can arise in the first place from an is; and of how, even then,
that ought could be binding.
     Although Kelsen long supposed that dynamic order could contain static elements96, he moved
toward denying the possibility of static order even for a moral order, with three arguments. First:
that the concept of static order supposes the existence of practical reason; thus he implies that no
such order can exist.97 The second and third arguments rest on the distinction between general and
individual norms. A norms is „individual‟ if it is directed toward a particular person in respect of a
particular act; otherwise, it is „general‟.98 Kelsen insists that dynamic legal orders contain
individual as well as general norms. The second argument is that what appears to be a deduced
norm is not actually a new norm99—so that no question of ordering arises. The third argument is
that, since the author of a general norm cannot completely foresee the behaviour to which the norm
may be applicable, the norm must always be subject to „individualisation‟, in which, out of the
abstract, general norm, a concrete, individual norm will be created to apply in the particular case.
Accordingly, when a general norm is created it is then only partially valid; it becomes wholly valid
only when it has been individualised: thus the validity of a general norm is necessarily a dynamic
     Drawing a distinction common in German theory, Kelsen specifies that he means „constitution‟
in the „material‟ sense, i.e. „the positive norm or norms which regulate the creation of general legal
norms‟, which may be wholly or partly unwritten—as distinct from a constitution in the „formal‟
[287] sense, which is a document and might contain other kinds of norm as well.101 (Thus, he
might have said, there is a „British Constitution‟ in the material sense only.) Later he relativises the
meaning of (material) „constitution‟ by noting that, in the dynamic chain of validity, each higher
norm is a „constitution‟ in relation to each lower norm.102 Except for the final act executing a
sanction, law-application is also law-creation.103
     The concept of dynamic legal order, Kelsen thought, marked the pure theory as anti-
formalistic; he believed that it achieved with more rigour the anti-formalistic aims of the „free law‟
theory and American „legal realism‟. In fact it denies that law can be seen as a logical whole and
points juristic attention away from issues of contradiction and toward real social conflicts. 104
     Kelsen distinguishes and emphatically rejects a third sense of „validity‟, as meaning
effectiveness.105 Effectiveness, he insists, is not validity but a condition of validity. The validity of
a positive moral or legal norm rests upon two conditions of is: that the norm shall have been
posited (its positivity) and that it shall be „by and large effective‟ (its effectiveness). To ask that a
norm be totally effective would be absurd: a norm is posited precisely in order to regulate conduct
contrary to it. Nor is a norm valid only when it is effective: it is valid when posited; only as valid
could it become effective; but it loses its validity if it fails to become, or later ceases to be, by and
large effective. Likewise a legal order is valid even though not all of its norms are effective, but
loses its validity when it permanently ceases to be by and large effective. Thus validity and
effectiveness are not identical, although validity depends on effectiveness—or, in other language,
law (or right) is not the same as power (or might), but is dependent on it: in this sense, „law is a
particular order (or organisation) of power‟.106 Where „effectiveness‟ means only conformity with
norms, without considering the motive for the conformity, „effectiveness‟ has „a normative, not a
causal, meaning‟.107
     While a legal order is ordinarily treated as being composed of single norms, Kelsen holds that
a general norm is actually two norms. A general norm, he says, is presented in the form: „People
ought to refrain from stealing; if a court has established that a person has committed a theft, that
judge ought to create an individual norm stating that that person ought to be put in jail‟. The latter
part, Kelsen holds, is a „primary‟ norm, directed to an organ, stating that coercion ought to be
applied; the former part is a „secondary‟ norm, also directed to the organ, stating the reason for the
primary norm.108
     This seems strange: Austin, for one, follows the sequence of presentation.109 Kelsen,
however, is starting not from the norm as written but from behaviour. Perhaps at no point is he
more sociological. The primary norm is effective directly, the secondary norm only indirectly; the
legal order is effective principally through its primary norms.110 What one observes is people being
deprived of goods, imprisoned, executed ... As one asks for the meaning that the actors attribute to
their behaviour, one comes first upon a norm authorising the organ to impose the sanction. Next
one finds a norm giving the reason for that authorisation—although this norm is perhaps [288]
superfluous and is often not stated distinctly but only implicit in the primary norm.111

2. Law and morality

For positive legal norms to compose a dynamic order is for them to „have the characteristic of
regulating their own creation and application‟112 and occasionally Kelsen writes as if this is the
distinguishing feature of law.113 Elsewhere however he holds that moral norms too may compose a
dynamic order. The feature that distinguishes law from the other social orders, and particularly
from morality, is rather its coerciveness—not only that it exercises „psychic coercion‟, which other
social orders also do, but that it prescribes specific coercive acts directly as sanctions for
nonconformity with its norms.114 Moral norms, in contrast, are encountered as norms regulating
particular behaviour rather than as norms prescribing a sanction—and then the sanction is first
positive, as approval, and only subsequently negative, as disapproval—and often without any norm
prescribing a sanction. The moral norm regulating behaviour is primary—the sanctioning moral
norm, if any, secondary.115
     Kelsen insists that morality is no part of law. Law has no moral content: there are no mala in
se but only mala prohibita; a delict is not outside law or a rejection of law but is within law as the
condition for imposing a sanction.116 Nor is law as such intrinsically good: to hold that it is,
subjects the positive legal order to a new iusnaturalism and thereby provides an „uncritical
legitimation‟ of the order. Indeed, if one were to give up „the solidly fixed frontier over against the
concepts of morality and politics‟, and count moral and political principles and policies into law,
one would have to count in every factor influencing the creation of law—including the interests of
party and class.117
     This stance is starkly evident when Kelsen extends the concept of sanction beyond the concept
of reaction to specific behaviour, to include reactions to circumstances that the state finds
undesirable—arrest on suspicion, protective custody, internment, expropriation of property in the
public interest. All these, even committal to an extermination camp, „cannot be considered as
taking place outside the legal order‟.118 But the concept of a law of law is not extended likewise.
     Here Kelsen is tense. Within his philosophical positivism, on one side his strong sense of
morality and justice is subject to an insistence that justice be relative, a justice of tolerance which
among other things is a social precondition for the practice of science.119 Obversely, however, he
identifies and subscribes to the modern appearance of law as mere technique. He characterises law
as „a specific social technique for the achievement of ends determined by politics‟ and the legal
scientist as a mere „technician‟, not concerned with the political aims of the legal order being
serviced.120 This position is vulnerable to the Frankfurt School‟s critique of philosophical
positivism‟s privileging of technical or instrumental rationality. The „scientific‟ approach is
privileged as „objective‟, while the practically rational reasons for adopting and pursuing it are
always-already removed from [289] argument by characterising all evaluation as merely
emotional.121 In this perspective, Kelsen privileges in the name of science the instrumentalism
whose extreme consequences as law he abhors and of which he was nearly a victim.122


1. Echoes of legal realism

In formulating a legal proposition describing a general norm, we have seen, Kelsen specifies: „if a
court has established (festgestellt)‟. Recalling the Kantian principle that there are no „things in
themselves‟, Kelsen acknowledges that the delict to which a sanction is imputed is not a raw event
but an event as constructed under the concept „delict‟, or a concept of a particular kind of delict, by
a court. Then, for example, the legal norm prohibiting theft says not „If someone has stolen, the
court ought to order that they ought to be put in jail‟ but „If the court hearing the case has
established that someone has stolen, that court ought to order that that person ought to be put in
jail‟.123 Under the secondary norm, it seems, the court constructs a fact-in-law as a condition for
the application of the primary norm.
      Such a view of the matter inserts a cognitive element in the heart of the dynamic order,
threatening to blow apart the dichotomy between the categories of is and ought. On further
reflection, Kelsen takes a distance from the specialised legal meaning of feststellen: „to declare‟, as
in a declaratory judgement. What the court does is „not descriptive, i.e. declarative, but
constitutive‟. The establishing that a delict has been committed normally forms part of the primary
      The further Kelsen goes toward characterising the secondary norm as „superfluous‟—as either
existing but unnecessary or existing only by implication—the closer he comes to the extreme
American „legal realism‟ of Gray, who maintained that law is only judicially created norms, for
which legislation is but a source125, and consequently also to abandoning the „separation of powers‟
differentiation of judiciary and legislature126.
      Kelsen does not, however, acknowledge courts to have unfettered discretion. Existing general
norms require the courts to apply them, and courts can depart from them only within the discretion
that those norms allow. This fettering is not set aside but only limited, in the extreme application of
the „principle‟ of res iudicata, that an individual norm may be legally valid even though it does not
correspond to any valid general norm, either when there is no such norm or when such a norm
prescribes differently (recall that, for Kelsen, a void norm is so only when declared so by a court of
final instance). This view corresponds, Kelsen believes, to the way that courts actually behave. 127

[290] 2. Logic and norms

Kelsen insists that, if there is no practical reason, logic cannot apply to norms. Logic is applicable
to legal propositions but not to legal norms. Norms cannot be true or false, only valid or invalid, in
a non-logical sense, which is also their existence. The pure theory is not a „legal logic‟. 128 Where
logic is applied to legal propositions, still logical must not be confused with psychological or
political questions.129
     Kelsen deals with logic only in the form of the syllogism. A premiss or conclusion of a
syllogism may describe a norm in three ways. First, by „quoting‟ the norm—e.g., „There is a valid
general norm: “Everyone ought to keep their promises to others”.‟ Second, by establishing the
existence of a norm, as an objective meaning—that the subjective meaning of an act of will is also
its objective meaning because the act is authorised by a valid norm of a positive moral or legal
order. Third: in logic of probability, there can be a syllogism concluding as to the probability that,
in a particular case, the judge will create an individual norm that will correspond to a certain
general norm.130
     Nonetheless, Kelsen holds, within an order norms themselves may conflict. Conflict may be
two-sided, where to follow either norm would be to breach the other, or one-sided. It may be total
or partial—partial when to follow one norm would be to breach the other where it applies
conditionally—and either necessary or only possible. I will cite two of his examples. Between the
norm „Bigamy ought to be punished‟ and the norm „Bigamy ought not to be punished‟ there is two-
sided, total, necessary conflict. Between the norm „Murder ought to be punished with death, if the
murderer is more than twenty years old‟ and the norm „Murder ought to be punished with death, if
the murderer is more than eighteen years old‟ there is one-sided, partial and not necessary but only
possible conflict.131 Since legal norms can conflict, any legal norm might face its opposite:
therefore the values embodied in any norm can only be relative.132
     Kelsen‟s idea of conflict looks very like contradiction, but he insists that a conflict of norms is
not even comparable with contradiction. For conflict of norms can be resolved by derogation,
which is the application of a further norm, not of a logical principle.133
     A legal order, Kelsen holds, has no gaps. He subscribes to the view that „whatever is not
forbidden is permitted‟. Whatever could have been forbidden yet is neither forbidden nor
positively permitted—that is, permission expressly given—may be said to be negatively permitted;
the individual is in that sense „free‟. For the situation where an organ is faced with a quite
unforeseen case, the legal order contains, expressly or tacitly, a norm authorising the organ to
create a new legal norm on the basis of moral and political principle; although there is no norm to
apply to the case, the legal order as a whole is applicable.134

[291] 3. Up the law

So far, Kelsen‟s reasoning has been downward, in terms of the dynamic legal order‟s chain of
authorisation. But he also reasons upward.
     He takes on board the view of both American „legal realists‟ and Belgian theory of legal
rhetoric that a court may first intuit an individual norm to apply and only afterwards elaborate
„grounds‟ for its application. In that situation, Kelsen holds, the syllogisms are still relevant, but
they describe not the way in which the individual norm is created but the way in which its
application is justified; the description is still, as intended, of an organ‟s practice. 135 Again, the
anti-formalist tendency of the concept of dynamic legal order appears.
     In the same spirit Kelsen holds that, when a norm is obeyed, the person obeying it reproduces
it, as meaning, in their mind. The addressor means, the addressee understands; through that
understanding, the norm becomes a meaning for the addressee; the addressee thereby addresses it
to him- or herself. Although this is not to say that the addressee always „recognises‟—that is,
accepts—the norm; the addressee might not obey it, or might obey it only because of the threat of a
    However, when an organ to which a general norm is addressed is thereby authorised to create a
lower norm, it will do so only if it recognises the higher norm as suitable for application to the
concrete case. This will not be an exception to the dynamic order, but will be an authorised
exercise of discretion. A „recognition‟ theory is correct to this limited extent.137
    The salient feature of these arguments is that Kelsen is looking at the organ‟s decision from the
standpoint of the norm‟s addressee.138

                                   LAW, STATE AND INDIVIDUAL

The pure theory „is objectivistic and universalistic‟, aiming „to conceive in each part of the law the
function of the total law‟. Consequently it cannot view the legal order from the standpoint of the
individual legal subject and its interests. Thinking in terms of rights must be reduced to thinking in
terms of the whole legal order.139 But this is to be done sociologically, for norms regulate not
persons as such but their behaviour. Accordingly, a „legal relation‟ lies not between persons as
such but between „the behaviour of two individuals as defined by legal norms‟, i.e. as content of
legal norms.140
     Kelsen speaks of „the state‟ in a broad and a narrow sense.141 The state in the broad sense is
defined by territory and population. If one‟s eye is on human behaviour, one finds a range of legal
orders. In some, general legal norms are created by a central legislative organ, so that the legal
order may be called „relatively centralised‟. The idea of its centralisation refers only to its sphere
of validity: for it may be valid over fragmented territory or differently for different sectors of the
population (e.g. as to „language, religion, race, sex or profession‟), or not effective uniformly. Such
a legal order is a „state‟. In „the primitive pre-state order and the super-state order of general inter-
[292]national law‟, however, general legal norms are created through custom. Thus these legal
orders are „relatively decentralised‟ and should not be called states. Here, Kelsen adopts the idea of
„the state‟ in international law.
     The narrow sense is taken from state legal orders, as „the bureaucratic machinery of officials,
headed by the government‟ (i.e. the executive power). This may be seen as a „partial legal order‟
within the total legal order. Thus one may speak of the total legal order exercising „direct state
administration‟, which is to say jurisdiction, and the executive „indirect state administration‟, which
is essentially, as conformity with the former‟s law, a mode of transaction. Here Kelsen
acknowledges the interventions by the modern state (in the narrow sense) in the „private‟ sphere, as
well as the bureaucratisation of both public and private administration.
     „The state‟ in either sense, however, must be seen as the behaviour of real individuals.
Consequently, rights and duties „of the state‟ are to be understood as rights and duties of officials.
Since they are officials only as persons acting with legal authority, every state is by definition
„governed by law‟, i.e. is a Rechtsstaat. Therefore the expression Rechtsstaat is better confined to
those states that may be described as also committed to the ideas of democracy and legal security.
     In traditional theory, just as the Christian religion presents „God‟ as both creator-ruler and
immanent in the world, the state has „two sides‟ and is „self-obligating‟: that is, it appears on one
side as personified author of the legal order, on the other as a legal subject, obligated by the legal
order. With the decline of „a religious-metaphysical justification of the state‟, this theory, that of
the Rechtsstaat, performs the inestimable ideological service of presenting the state‟s self-
justification through law. One of the pure theory‟s main contributions, in Kelsen‟s eyes, is to have
unmasked this ideology.
     One reason for Kelsen to understand „the state‟ primarily under its international-law concept is
that this permits him to identify the state with the legal order, independently of the concept of the
state in the narrow sense, which attaches to the public-law aspect of the legal order. Indeed, it
permits him radically to relativise the distinction between public and private law.
     Traditional theory of the Romanist legal systems divides the legal order into „public‟ and
„private‟ law‟ (the Common Law systems too segregate „public‟ law). Kelsen wants to relativise
the distinction. At the least, he holds, it is made on different criteria for different purposes. 142
However, he goes much further. As with „the state‟ in the narrow sense, a corporation may be seen
a partial legal order within the total legal order.143 Indeed, all individuals appear as „organs‟ within
the total legal order, in that they are „authorised‟ to create law, at least by making contracts.
Traditional concepts such as „capacity‟, „competence‟ and „jurisdiction‟ hamper one‟s ability to see
that the scope of authorisation includes not only legislation and adjudication but also the exercise of
rights and the formation of contracts and treaties. Whether an individual is to be characterised as a
„legal organ‟ in all law-creating activities or only, according to division of labour, in some (e.g. as
an official) is [293] for Kelsen a moot point.144 The main thing is that all such law-creation falls
within the legal order.
     Thus the pure theory „relativises the contrast between private and public law, which traditional
legal science absolutises—changes it from an extra-systemic difference, i.e. a difference between
law and nonlaw, between law and state, to an intra-systemic one.‟ And in this the pure theory
shows itself once again to be „a true science‟ by dissolving the ideology involved in the
differentiation of public and private law, an ideology that serves either to release government from
legal constraints or to create „the idea that the realm of political domination is restricted to public
law, i.e. primarily to constitutional and administrative law, but entirely excluded from private law‟.
The latter view creates the illusion that private relations, in the capitalist market, have, in their
autonomy, an intrinsic relation to democracy; whereas in capitalism not only norms of private
relations but even general norms may be autocratic as easily as democratic. 145
     As one would now expect, for Kelsen rights and duties derive exclusively from general norms
and are themselves individual norms, considered in relation to the subject to whose behaviour the
general and individual norms apply. Rights are „reflex rights‟, i.e. correlative to an obligation (the
idea that rights have priority over duties probably derives from the idea of natural rights): they are
private rights as power, through lawsuit, to participate in the creation of an individual norm
ordering the imposition of a sanction for nonfulfilment of an obligation; political rights as power to
participate in law-creation, whether directly as member of a legislature or indirectly as voter, or in
creation of a norm repealing an unconstitutional norm; or rights as power following permission
from a governmental authority. Rights do not stem directly from individual interests, since the
individual‟s right is only to obtain fulfilment of a state organ‟s duty to apply a sanction. Moreover,
the provision of such rights is not an essential function of law but pertains only to parts of a
capitalist legal order.146
     In the spirit of limiting the „metaphysical bases‟ to what is strictly fundamental to a universal
concept of law, such concepts as „legal organ‟ and „reflex right‟ are characterised as not essential to
the pure theory but „merely auxiliary‟—to „facilitate the description‟.147
     Another of these is the concept „legal subject‟. As distinct from the human being, who is a
construction of the natural sciences, the person is a construction in legal science or ethics; if a
human being has both a legal and a moral personality, the human being as „biologico-physiological
unit‟ is their substratum. The legal person (or subject) may be a physical or „natural‟ person, or a
juristic or „artificial‟ person (such as a corporation or the state). These are not physical realities,
nor even creations of the law, but convenient personificatory metaphors through which legal
science presents „the unity of a complex of legal obligations and legal rights‟. The person is not
different from that complex, any more than a tree differs in substance from the sum of its parts.
The artificiality of the juristic person is well known: but the physical or „natural‟ person is equally
a construction of legal science as a component of the [294] legal order. It „has‟ rights and
obligations only figuratively: to present that image as real is an ideological move intended to
privilege rights of private property.148
     The whole legal order, as effective in terms of individual behaviour, constitutes a „legal
community (Rechtsgemeinschaft)‟, to which in the last analysis authority is attributed and which is
„the state‟ in the broad sense. In this sense the legal order is a „state legal order (staatliche
Rechtsordnung)‟.149 Thus to place primary emphasis on the broad concept of the state may seem
strange, even a device to de-emphasise the narrow concept, until one remembers that through
Kelsen‟s lifetime international peace was not obviously the normal situation. He is surely justified
in taking armies to be more significant than police.
     Now, perhaps, the riddle of „objectivity‟ can be solved. Kelsen‟s primary focus is on human
behaviour. When, secondarily, he examines the meanings that human subjects attach to their
behaviour, he finds that they understand their behaviour as contents of oughts, in particular of legal
norms. These norms, taken as a legal order, are also „the state‟ in the broad sense. Human subjects
then appear as „organs‟ of the state. Thus, on one side human subjects are always-already organs of
the state, in which case they cannot be the ultimate authors of legal norms; while, on the other, the
state itself appears only as a point of imputation. This point of imputation remains „objective‟ in
the sense of Kelsen‟s first major work. Consequently, its organs are endowed with that objectivity
and communicate it to the legal norms that they make. The authors of legal norms do not appear as
subjects whose meanings can be criticised within normative science.

                                 STATE AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

Public international law falls within Kelsen‟s definition of law. It is an order of norms: a basic
norm establishes the customary behaviour of states as a law-creating fact; from custom arise norms
regulating the behaviour of states in general. One of these norms is pacta sunt servanda
(agreements shall be kept to), according to which treaties are made. Some treaties set up
international organisations, such as the International Court, which issue further norms. Thus there
is a hierarchy of norms. The norms are coercive, in that breach is by and large visited with a
sanction, whether reprisal or war. Since the bellum iustum (just war) principle is universally
accepted through treaty, war conforming to that principle is a sanction.150
     To say that international law authorises or obligates states means that it authorises or obligates
individuals indirectly, through the state legal order—just as that order authorises or obligates
individuals directly through the partial legal order which is a corporation. The international legal
norm is however „incomplete‟ in that it specifies only the authorisation or obligation, leaving to the
state legal order identification of the individual to carry it out; that done, the individual‟s behaviour
is attributed to the state, as the state‟s [295] behaviour. In the same way, a state commits an
international delict when it authorises or obligates an individual to do something in contravention
of international law. That sanctions are exerted against all members of the state, even if they were
not involved in the delict, shows that state members are collectively and absolutely liable for
international delicts. There is however a tendency for international law to obligate individuals
directly, such as war criminals. In these exceptional cases, collective and absolute liability gives
way to individual liability with fault.151
     Kelsen insists on „the epistemological postulate: to understand all law in one system—that is,
from one and the same standpoint—as one closed whole‟. This postulate excludes a dualist view of
the relationship between state and international legal order. It permits only the two monist views:
either that international law is „a legal order delegated by, and therefore included in, the state legal
order‟ or that it is „a total legal order comprising all state legal orders as partial orders, and superior
to all of them‟.152 As late as 1941, Kelsen believed that this entailed the primacy of international
law, to form with the state legal orders „one uniform, universal legal system‟. „As it is the task of
natural science to describe its object—reality—in one system of laws of nature, so it is the task of
jurisprudence to comprehend all human law in one system of rules of law.‟ 153 He had not yet
distinguished clearly between legal norm and legal proposition; if the legal proposition is
formulated in terms independent of its subject matter, unity of theory does not entail unity of
subject matter.154 However, international law has never been so effective and by the end of World
War II Kelsen preferred the more realistic position that the alternative monistic views are equal in
the eyes of science. Yet, politically, he maintained the inter-war theme of „peace through law‟ and
a frank distaste for the state-centred outlook.155

                                          THE BASIC NORM

Whether norms are ordered through logical or legal validity, Kelsen believes, the order must have
some „basis (Grund)‟. If the separation of „is‟ and „ought‟ is to be maintained, that basis or ground
can only be a norm, a „basic norm (Grundnorm)‟.
      Kelsen presents the basic norm of a positive legal order by contrasting two situations. In one
situation, a robber demands money from me. If I ask why I ought to hand my money over, no
further reason can be found. The meaning of the robber‟s act of will is merely subjective. In the
second situation, a tax official demands money from me. If I ask why I ought to hand my money
over, the official refers to a regulation. If I ask why I ought to obey the regulation, the official
refers to a statute. If I ask why I ought to obey the statute, the (patient) official refers to the
constitution. If I ask why I ought to obey the constitution, the official might be able to refer to an
earlier constitution on whose authority the present constitution was created. Kelsen characterises
that earlier constitution or, if none, the present constitution as the „historically first [296]
constitution‟, created by custom or revolution. The official‟s resources end with the historically
first constitution—but I can still ask why I ought to obey it.
      Kelsen proposes that the jurist—the legal scientist156—should „presuppose‟, as the meaning of
a juristic act of thought, a norm prescribing that the historically first constitution ought to be
obeyed: „One ought to obey the prescriptions of the historically first constitution‟. Or, more fully:
„Coercion ought to be exerted under the conditions and in the manner prescribed by the by and
large effective constitution and by the by and large effective general and individual norms created
according to the constitution‟. That is: that constitution is to be understood in legal science as the
objective meaning of the originating custom or act of will.
      This „basic‟ norm does not actually exist: it is only presupposed in juristic thinking as the
„reason for the validity‟ of the order. Kelsen specifies it, in Kantian terms, as a transcendental-
logical presupposition—or, a constitution „in a transcendental-logical sense‟—that is, not a
proposition describing law but a rational condition for constructing propositions describing law. 157
      Nonetheless, for the case of a particular legal order, the particular basic norm refers to a real
constitution. The acid test of the concept is a revolution: if the revolution succeeds, in the sense
that the new constitution and the norms made or adopted under it are by and large effective, the
jurist presupposes a new basic norm.
      Nor does Kelsen claim that the concept is original: it „merely makes conscious what most
legal scientists do, at least unconsciously‟ (i.e. when they have not sufficiently clarified their
premisses), when they are not being behaviourists or iusnaturalists. 158 However, the presupposition
is not a moral recognition. The legal order, which is also a state, is differentiated thereby from a
gang of robbers, but the criterion is legality—not justice, as with Augustine.159
      The presupposition of a basic norm plays a double role. On one hand, it is the condition upon
which science can understand some oughts as constituting an order, hence as norms—whether legal
or moral. On the other, it is the condition on which legal science can understand the meanings of
some acts of will as objective, i.e. as legal norms.
     It doesn‟t work. Although a basic norm is a scientific construct, the meaning of an act of
thought, the thought is of a norm. And one can still ask, in thought, what is the basis of that norm‟s
authority. If the answer is, a still more basic norm, the question can be asked of that norm too.
Thus, presupposing a basic norm, which was intended to tie off the infinite regress of questions
about authorisation, merely repeats the regress. Moreover, since even a hypothetical norm is
conceived as the meaning of a hypothetical act of will, one finds oneself in a regress through ever
less evidently human wills.
     It took Kelsen half a century to realise this. When he did, he reached for a solution as bold as
that of the category of „ought‟ or the „basic norm‟ concept itself. He declared that the basic norm is
not a hypothesis but a „fiction‟, though in a special sense. In everyday parlance, a fiction is a
proposition that, although false, is useful. Vaihinger, however, had termed this a mere „semi-
[297]fiction‟. In Vaihinger‟s „philosophy of „as if‟‟, a proposition is a „genuine fiction‟ if it is not
only false but also self-contradictory. Kelsen held, in these terms, that the basic norm is a „genuine
fiction‟ because, in addition to being a concept of something that does not in fact exist, it is self-
contradictory in that it embodies an infinite regress.160
     This doesn‟t work either. Vaihinger‟s concept is incoherent: what is logically invalid cannot
be either true or false, indeed is probably meaningless.
     At one point, Kelsen held that a basic norm is presupposed by „the individual‟ in that the
general population presupposes a basic norm and that legal science only brings it „to
consciousness‟.161 He swiftly resiled from that position162 and rightly so: it is an empirical
assumption, not obviously true and Kelsen produced no evidence for it.
     If successful, the „basic norm‟ concept is the keystone of Kelsen‟s pure theory and hence of his
normative science of law; otherwise, it is their Achilles‟ heel.163 The heel has disintegrated of its
own accord. Kelsen‟s theory of law is left without even a means to identify a norm as legal.


Surveying this wreckage, an initial question is whether it is worth continuing on the same
philosophical basis. Although the charge of `formalism‟ can be answered within Kelsen‟s
philosophical framework, that framework itself is shaky. One problem is that the construction of
reality simultaneously in different „modes‟, so that a thing or person appears through a cubist sort
of combination of aspects164, contains no guarantee that a construction in one mode will have
anything to do with a construction in another—the notion of a „modally indifferent substratum‟ is
obscure.165 Other difficulties lie in the rejection of practical reason. First, the more one regards
reality as constructed rather than given, the less ground there is for assuming that even the
descriptive side of thought is rational. Second, there is much evidence for the existence of practical
rationality; indeed, it is hard to see the point of the concept of legal order, even dynamic legal
order, unless it is assumed that the creation of legal norms is rational to some extent. Third, Kelsen
provides himself with only two options—that practical reason exists and is absolute, and that the
practical sphere is only emotional. It is hard to see why he could not take the Weberian option of
relative practical reason, corresponding to the relative theoretical reason in which both thinkers‟
conception of science is grounded. A descriptive science of law, even as Kelsen conceives it, can
proceed whether or not there is also a prescriptive science of law and whether or not the norms to
be described have a relatively rational element.
     Resolution of the philosophical difficulties might strengthen Kelsen‟s enterprise or require its
abandonment or transformation. Transformation would be a three-sided task: (1) to complete the
theory‟s stance of critical independence, (2) to reformulate the theory compatibly with that stance
and (3), through the eyes of that reformulated version, to take the existing [298] version as a
rigorous example of the internal structure of legal ideology.
     The scope of enquiry would bring iusnaturalism back into the range of objects of study.
Kelsen „kicks off his theoretical ball to see where it rolls and where it stops if it completes its
course without hindrance‟, which effects a reduction ad absurdum of legal positivism166—
especially in the collapse of the pure theory with the loss of the concept of a basic norm. Yet, since
that concept was meant to replace the foundations of both legal positivism and (if natural law
existed) iusnaturalism, Kelsen‟s end point tends to reveal that legal ideology embraces both legal
positivism and iusnaturalism.167 For a critical perspective should not simply dismiss erroneous
beliefs as illusions168 but study the fact that people hold those beliefs and act in terms of them.
     Yet the pure theory excludes the very issue of ideology in the strong sense of a kind of
misdescription.169 First, Kelsen‟s interpretive understanding is confined to the scientific
construction of norms in their form as oughts. Save in the moment when he considered that a basic
norm might be presupposed by the general population, Kelsen does not consider descriptive
subjective meanings on their own account. Knowledge of law is understood not as existing in the
consciousness of the general population but solely as a product of legal scientists, whose
subjectivity is not clearly emancipated from the alleged objectivity of legal authority. And,
although occasionally Kelsen acknowledges judicial cognition of norms, he is reluctant to consider
how norms may be descriptive through their content—for example, in describing a social relation
as „a contract‟ or as „property‟. Here, even to an extent in Kelsen‟s own terms, normativism is
guilty of formalism.170
     All the same, Kelsen raises three issues of basic relevance to ideology-critique, which many
`critical‟ writers ignore: (1) how to describe an ought without at the same time deciding whether to
recognise it as to be followed, (2) how to describe a legal ought without necessarily doing so in
legal terms and (3) what is the role in legal ideology of the concept of the natural legal person? The
last, especially, requires further development in terms of class and gender, taking into account
Kelsen‟s own sociology from below.
     A barrier to empirical enquiry, however, is Kelsen‟s lack of attention to language.171 This
inattention is permitted by his distinction between an act of will and its mode of expression, but that
makes the nature of an act of will still more obscure. All the same, so far as claims that language is
all are coupled with attention only to official texts or to the investigator‟s „ordinary‟ dialect and
thus tend to service social control in the era of media saturation172, this gap in Kelsen might not be
damning. Not as much, at least, as the tendency of the exclusion of practical reason to preserve
dominant values from rational criticism.
     Accordingly, it seems worth pursuing Kelsen‟s work on description—both in a neo-Kantian
framework, such as Weber‟s, and in other frameworks into which his ideas can be translated. The
legal proposition needs to be translated from the refractive into the interpretive mode. The law of
law does not fit all of Kelsen‟s kinds of legal norm in any case and appears to be a misguided
attempt to find an analogy of the reflective mode, on the assumption that legal norms are as
objective as physical things („social facts‟, Durkheim said). Whether anything like the law of law
would be required if the legal proposition were to [299] become interpretive may be doubted. And,
with the passage from refraction to interpretation, it may no longer be necessary to seek a
foundation such as a basic norm.
     There remains Kelsen‟s „will‟ theory of norms. If one acknowledges as empirically weak
Kelsen‟s assertion that legal norms never occur singly and if one were then to misunderstand his
„will‟ theory in the politically absolutist terms of most legal science—which Kelsen more than
anyone sought to combat—his concept of a legal norm would appear close to that in the Nazism of
Schmitt.173 But the pure theory comes close to being a set of independent statements about the
nature of law, considered as a social belief. If one describes that belief with such independence,
one‟s later valuations might have room to acknowledge that, although every kind of justice may
have been accomplished through law, so has every type of atrocity. Seen from the banks of the
Rhine, this bitter paradox might appear to lie not between the form and certain contents of law but
within the form itself—to which Kelsen‟s work is currently our principal guide.

                                    NOTES AND REFERENCES
     R.A. Métall, Hans Kelsen: Leben und Werk [Hans Kelsen: Life and Work] (1969), hereafter „Métall, Kelsen‟, pp. 62-3, 70-2. All information
     about Kelsen‟s life is taken from this biography by a pupil and long-time assistant, with which Kelsen co-operated closely. It contains a full
     bibliography of works by and on Kelsen at pp. 122-216; supplemented in A.J. Merkl et al. (eds.), Festschrift für Hans Kelsen zum 90. Geburtstag
     (1971), pp. 325-6. In 1933, because his French was better than his English, Kelsen preferred an invitation to work in Geneva to invitations from
     the London School of Economics (obtained by Laski and Kelsen‟s former pupil Lauterpacht) and the New School for Social Research, the „exile
     university‟ in the USA: Métall, Kelsen, pp. 63-4.
     C. Varga, The Place of Law in Lukács’ World Concept (1985), pp. 136-7.
     See e.g. Hans Kelsen-Institut, Der Einfluss der Reinen Rechtslehre auf die Rechtstheorie in verschiendenen Ländern [The Pure Theory‟s
     Influence on Legal Theory in Various Countries] (1978).
     E.g. by C. Norris, „Law, Deconstruction, and the Resistance to Theory‟ (1988) 15 Journal of Law and Society pp. 166-87 at 182. That Norris
     comes out of literary theory indicates how orthodox this impression has become.
     G. Gurvitch, Sociology of Law (1947), p. 5.
     H.L.A. Hart, „Kelsen‟s Doctrine of the Unity of Law‟ (1968) in his Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy (1983), pp. 309-42 at 313. The
     charge was laid early: among Kelsen‟s Austro-Marxist friends, by Max Adler and Karl Renner (the latter‟s work can be seen as an alternative):
     T. Bottomore and P. Goode (eds.), Austro-Marxism (1978), p. 18. Among the „legal realist‟ tendency, Holmes was mightily impressed after
     meeting Kelsen and wrote so to Laski: O.W. Holmes Jr., Holmes-Laski Letters (1953), p. 1376. (Certainly Kelsen was a strong character, once
     responding so powerfully to a remark by Hart that the latter, on his own account, „fell over backwards in my chair‟: H.L.A. Hart, „Kelsen
     Visited‟ (1963) in his Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy, op. cit., pp. 286-308 at 287.) Yet Laski (echoing Holmes‟ most famous phrase)
     was to call the pure theory „an exercise in logic and not in life‟ and to pile Kelsen among „the veterans of an earlier age‟ that knew not sociology:
     H.J. Laski, A Grammar of Politics (1925, 5th edn. 1948), p. vi. Pound similarly acknowledged Kelsen‟s eminence, assisted him in exile and
     deplored his unreality: R. Pound, „Fifty Years of Jurisprudence‟, part III, (1937-8) 51 Harvard Law Rev. pp. 444-72 at 449; cp. „Jurisprudence‟
     in the [300] Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences (1930-5), vol. 8, pp. 477-92 at 484. To Pashukanis, who understood Kelsen‟s philosophical
     standpoint better than most, Kelsen‟s theory of law „makes not the slightest attempt to analyse law, the legal form, as a historical form, for it has
     absolutely no intention of fathoming reality‟ and is therefore „a waste of time‟: E.B. Pashukanis, Law and Marxism: a General Theory (1924; tr.
     B. Einhorn, 1978), pp. 52-3. Today, the accusation continues. Patrons of Twining‟s „Great Juristic Bazaar‟ find a large, empty, whitewashed
     space announced as „The One True Legal Science‟, to which there is „No entry without Purification‟: W. Twining, „The Great Juristic Bazaar‟
     (1978) 14 Journal of the Society of Public Teachers of Law (n.s.) pp. 185-200 at 194. J.W. Harris accuses Kelsen of conceiving of a „pure norm‟:
     Law and Legal Science (1979), pp. 34-5. See also J. Stone, Legal System and Lawyers’ Reasonings (1964), ch. 3; Kelsen replied in „Professor
     Stone and the Pure Theory of Law‟ (1965) 17 Stanford Law Rev. pp. 1128-57. Kelsen‟s replies to critics were often long.
     „blödeste‟: reported by H. Klecatsky in Hans Kelsen-Institut, Hans Kelsen zum Gedenken [Remembering Hans Kelsen] (1974), pp. 69-70.
     (1981) 138 Revue Internationale de Philosophie („Kelsen et le Positivisme Juridique [Kelsen and Legal Positivism]‟); (1986) 9 Cahiers de
     Philosophie Politique et Juridique („La Philosophie du Droit de Hans Kelsen [Hans Kelsen‟s Philosophy of Law]‟); R. Tur and W. Twining
     (eds.), Essays on Kelsen (1986). The following have not been seen: (1984) Rechtstheorie, Beihefte 5 and 6; S.L. Paulson and R. Walter (eds),
     Untersuchungnen zur Reinen Rechtslehre [Studies on the Pure Theory of Law] (1986); A. Carrino, Kelsen e il Problema della Scienza Giuridica
     [Kelsen and the Problem of Legal Science] (1987); W. Krawietz and O. Weinberger (eds), Reine Rechtslehre im Spiegel ihrer Fortsetzer und
     Kritiker [Pure Theory of Law in the Mirror of its Continuators and Critics] (1988); L. Gianformaggio (ed.), Hans Kelsen’s Theory: a
     Diachronic Point of View (forthcoming). I have had to neglect almost all of the large literature on Kelsen in Italian and Spanish.
     Even its core, the pure theory, has been surveyed at book length in English only once: W. Ebenstein, The Pure Theory of Law (1945, reissued
     1969). This book contains many valuable reflections for which there is not space here. The only other book in English on Kelsen does not
     attempt a general exposition and as critique is very weak: R. Moore, Legal Norms and Legal Science: a Critical Study of Kelsen’s Pure Theory
     of Law (1978); see my review, (1980) 43 Modern Law Rev. 727-9. Like Ebenstein‟s book, the existing article-length surveys in English, though
     good in their time, are out of date: H. Lauterpacht, „Kelsen‟s Pure Science of Law‟ in W.I. Jennings (ed.), Modern Theories of Law (1933), pp.
     105-38; C.H. Wilson, „The Basis of Kelsen‟s Theory of Law‟ (1934) 1 Politica pp. 54-82. Kelsen himself provides a good, though now dated,
     survey: „The Pure Theory of Law. Its Method and Fundamental Concepts‟, tr. C.H. Wilson, (1934) 50 Law Quarterly Rev. pp. 474-98; (1935) 51
     Law Quarterly Rev. pp. 517-35; cp. „The Function of the Pure Theory of Law‟ in A. Reppy (ed.), Law: a Century of Progress 1835-1935 (1937),
     vol. 2, pp. 231-41; „On the Pure Theory of Law‟ (1966) 1 Israel Law Rev. pp. 1-7. Some aspects of the pure theory are discussed in J. Lenoble
     and F. Ost, Droit, Mythe et Raison [Law, Myth and Reason] (1980), pp. 467-546; M. van de Kerchove and F. Ost, Le Systeme Juridique entre
     Ordre et Desordre [Legal Systems—between Order and Disorder] (1988); D. Beyleveld and R. Brownsword, Law as a Moral Judgment (1986),
     ch. 6; also `Normative Positivism: the Mirage of the Middle-Way‟ (1989) 9 Oxford J. of Legal Studies 463-512. The best textbook account is in
     Lord Lloyd of Hampstead and M.D.A. Freeman, Introduction to Jurisprudence (5th edn. 1985), ch. 5.
     In referring to Kelsen‟s major works, the following abbreviations will be used:
         ATN—Allgemeine Theorie der Normen [General Theory of Norms] (1979) - an index is available separately (1989); tr. M. Hartney, General
         Theory of Norms (forthcoming). A draft of the first chapter was published in 1965 and is translated by P. Heath as „On the Concept of Norm‟
         in Kelsen, Essays in Legal and Moral Philosophy, sel. O. Weinberger (1973), pp. 216-27.
         CTL—The Communist Theory of Law (1955). Mostly a critique of the collection Soviet Legal Philosophy, tr. H. Babb (1951).
         FC—„The Function of a Constitution‟ (1964), tr. I. Stewart in Tur and Twining, op. cit., n. 8, pp. 109-19. Also in Lloyd and Freeman, op. cit,
         n. 9, pp. 379-85; the text in the Tur and Twining volume will be cited here. This version of the translation supersedes that in [1980] [301]
         Juridical Rev. pp. 214-24, except that the latter has notes on variations between the two versions of the German text. Parts of the later
         German text are incorporated in ATN, pp. 205-8.
         GTLS—General Theory of Law and State (tr. A. Wedberg 1945, reissued 1961). The original German text has not been published.
         HPS—Hauptprobleme der Staatsrechtslehre entwickelt aus der Lehre vom Rechtssatze [Major Problems in Theory of the Law of the State,
         Approached from Theory of the Legal Statement] (1911; 2nd edn. 1923, reissued 1960).
         PTL—Pure Theory of Law (1967 - translation by M. Knight of RR2). The title is correct on the titlepage; the addition of „The‟ on the cover of
         the paperback edition (1970) is unexplained.
         RR1—Reine Rechtslehre: Einleitung in die Rechtswissenschaftliche Problematik [Pure Theory of Law: Introduction to the Problematic of
         Legal Science] (1st edn. 1934); tr. B.L. and S.L. Paulson, Introduction to the Problems of Legal Theory (forthcoming). The French
         translation, Théorie Pure du Droit (1953), tr. H. Thévenaz, is an amplified text, intermediate between RR1 and RR2; a second edition of the
       translation (1988) distinguishes Kelsen‟s amplifications and adds an essay by M. van de Kerchove on Kelsen‟s influence in francophonic
       Europe and a bibliography of works in French on Kelsen.
       RR2—Reine Rechtslehre (2nd edn. 1960—tr. as PTL).
       WIJ—What is Justice? Justice, Law, and Politics in the Mirror of Science. Collected Essays (1957).
       WRS—H. Kelsen, A. Merkl and A. Verdross, Die Wiener rechtstheoretische Schule [The Vienna School of Legal Theory], ed. H. Klecatsky et
       al. (1968, in 2 vols).
    The Kelsen bibliographies in GTLS and WRS are superseded by that in Métall, Kelsen and its supplement; then by that in (not seen) R. Walter,
    Hans Kelsen (1985). Of Kelsen‟s main books, GTLS and RR2/PTL in particular tend to repeat each other: in referencing, preference will be
    given to ATN because it is a final statement, citing corresponding passages in FC since it is available in English; then to PTL as the last overall
    statement of the pure theory; and then to GTLS where it covers a point more fully than PTL. In no sense, however, are the references intended to
    be comprehensive. In quotations from American texts, spelling has been anglicised.
   One inferior translation is that of RR2 as PTL, which, though the translator records that the translation was „carefully checked by the author‟
   (PTL, p. vi), flattens philosophical nuances and omits many footnotes helpful on points of detail and for locating the book in contemporary
   debate. Where translation and original differ, it is impossible to tell what Kelsen intended: e.g., the apparently handy definition of law in PTL (p.
   320) does not clearly relate to the corresponding text in RR2 (p. 321).
   See Métall, Kelsen.
   See P. de Visscher, „Observations sur la Contribution de Hans Kelsen au Droit International Positif [Observations on Hans Kelsen‟s Contribution
   to Positive International Law]‟ (1981) 138 Revue Internationale de Philosophie pp. 530-8.
   Its membership is in any case contested—Métall finds WRS unrepresentative and holds that the pure theory of law is quite different from the work
   of the School: R.A. Métall, „Hans Kelsen und seine Wiener Schule der Rechtstheorie [Hans Kelsen and his Vienna School of Legal Theory]‟ in
   Hans Kelsen-Institut, Hans Kelsen zum Gedenken (1974), pp. 15-25 at 15-16.
   HPS. In the Germanic universities the higher doctorate, or Habilitation, qualifies for an academic career.
   PTL, p. 1, cp. 30-3; Society and Nature (1943).
   It suited Einstein, for one: P.A. Schilpp (ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist (1949, 1969).
   RR1, p. iii; reproduced in RR2, p. iii, but not in PTL. See also PTL, p. 72. See, further, H. Klenner, „Kelsens Kant [Kelsen‟s Kant]‟ (1981) 138
   Revue Internationale de Philosophie pp. 539-46.
   PTL, p. 113.
   Kelsen, „Natural Law Doctrine and Legal Positivism‟ (1929), tr. W.H. Kraus, in GTLS, pp. 389-446 at 444.
[302] 21 HPS, pp. v-xxiii („Vorrede zur zweiten Auflage [Preface to the Second Edition]‟); „Die Rechtswissenschaft als Norm- oder
   Kulturwissenschaft [Legal Science as Science of Norms or Culture]‟ (1916) in WRS, pp. 37-93.
   „The Pure Theory of Law‟, op. cit., n. 9, p. 481.
   PTL, p. 94.
   D. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739, 1888), pp. 469-70; ATN, p. 222.
   Following Herbart: Kelsen, „Die Rechtswissenschaft als Norm- oder Kulturwissenschaft‟, op. cit., n. 21, p. 37. Kelsen believes that Kant
   confuses the distinction in his theologically grounded conception of „practical reason‟ (ATN, pp. 62-5) and in this regard prefers Hume to Kant:
   ATN, p. 68-9.
   PTL, pp. 5-7; ATN, pp. 44-8. The difference between „is‟ and „ought‟ parallels that between reality and value: what is understood in terms of „is‟
   is real, what is understood in terms of „ought‟ is valuable if the „ought‟ is a norm (then the norm is a value). To understand in terms of an „ought‟
   that is a norm is to make an „objective‟ value judgement. To understand in terms of an „ought‟ that is not a norm is to make a „subjective‟ value
   judgement: but this is really to understand in terms of „is‟—to describe a relation between two things, the object valued and one‟s emotional
   state concerning it (ATN, p. 47). Existentialism is classified as merely an extension of iusnaturalism, as yet another mingling of „is‟ and „ought‟:
   PTL, pp. 253-4.
   ATN, p. 6; PTL, p. 196, where the reference seems to refer to the essay „Das Problem der Gerechtigkeit [The Problem of Justice]‟, appended to
   RR2, pp. 355-44 at 415ff.
   ATN, pp. 131-4; as here, arguments of ATN that refer to norms can often be taken to hold generally for oughts. Subsidiarily, Kelsen distinguishes
   between physiological will, e.g. by which one contracts an arm muscle, and mental will, e.g. by which one directs an arm movement; his is/ought
   division requires this distinction, but he accepts that it is difficult, perhaps uncompletable: ATN, p. 24. „Will‟ here will mean mental will.
   ATN, pp. 103, 119-20; PTL, pp. 2-7.
   RR2, pp. 4-5; PTL, p. 5; ATN, pp. 76-92. The specification is less necessary for the English word „ought‟ than for the German, „Sollen‟, which is
   close to „must‟. However, in this context „must‟ is better reserved to translate Kelsen‟s „Müssen‟, which he reserves for the necessities of causal
   connection. „Derogation‟ occurs where one norm removes the validity of another: e.g., where a statute, or a section of a statute, is repealed.
   Strictly, a derogating norm is a „not-ought (Nicht-Sollen)‟, but, since that is not feasible linguistically, one says e.g. „is hereby repealed‟: ATN,
   pp. 85, 87. Derogation is distinct from desuetude or the replacement of one customary norm by another. Kelsen accepts the existence of self-
   referring norms: ATN, p. 88.
   ATN, pp. 119-20.
   ATN, p. 131.
   PTL, pp. 101-7.
   PTL, p. 1. On the origins of the expression „methodological syncretism‟, see S.L. Paulson, „Kelsen on Legal Interpretation‟ (1990) 10 Legal
   Studies 136-52 at 151. I am indebted to this article for some references to recent and forthcoming publications.
   E.g. CTL, pp. 98-9, 143.
   R. Stammler, The Theory of Justice (1902, tr. I. Husik 1925, 1969). Stammler argued, against Marxism, that law is the „form‟ of society:
   Wirtschaft und Recht nach der materialistischen Geschichtsauffassung [Economy and Law According to the Materialist Conception of History]
   (1896). The latter point is, of course, description of law, so that Stammler actually confuses description and prescription: M. Weber, „R.
   Stammler‟s `Surmounting‟ of the Materialist Conception of History‟ (1906), tr. M. Albrow (1975) 2 British Journal of Law and Society pp. 129-
   52; (1976) 3 British Journal of Law and Society pp. 17-43.
   Cp. K. Olivecrona, Law as Fact (1939).
   ATN, pp. 58-60.
   G. Simmel, Einleitung in die Moralwissenschaft [Introduction to Moral Science] (1892-3), vol. 1, pp. 8-9. Later, Simmel preferred a category of
   „value (Wert)‟: The Philosophy of Money (1900, tr. T. Bottomore and D. Frisby 1978), p. 60. But Kelsen does not use this idea.
     The adoption of an additional category has been obscured by Kelsen himself. Although he . [303] discusses the borrowing from Simmel in an
     early work (HPS, pp. 7-8), and alludes to it later on, so far as I am aware it is referred to explicitly again only in a work published after his death:
     ATN, p. 2 and n. 2 (on 221-2).
     PTL, pp. 3-4 (where „Schema‟ is rendered as „scheme‟); RR2, pp. 3-4.
     PTL, p. 86; cp. GTLS, pp. 162-4 („normative jurisprudence‟).
     I.e., in more modern language, social or cultural anthropology.
     GTLS, pp. 175-8; cp. PTL, pp. 75-6, 85-9.
     ATN, pp. 18-19, 121-5; RR2, pp. 73-7. The translation of Rechtssatz as „rule of law in a descriptive sense‟ (GTLS, pp. 45ff; PTL, pp. 71ff) has
     misled. Translation of Sollsätze and Seinsätze as, respectively, „ought sentences‟ (and perhaps „deontic sentences‟) and „declarative sentences‟
     (O. Weinberger, „Logic and the Pure Theory of Law‟, tr. A. Schramm, in Tur and Twining, op. cit., n. 8, pp. 187-99 at 189, 199) is very awkward:
     for one thing, these are not necessarily sentences. The distinction between norm and proposition is absent in early works, such as HPS, where
     Kelsen adheres to conventional usage, in which „Rechtssatz‟ refers indeterminately to a legal norm and to the proposition describing it. Rather
     than speak, respectively, of „genuine‟ and „nongenuine‟ Sätze, he consciously turns to using „Rechtssatz‟ to mean only the descriptive proposition:
     ATN, pp. 121, 124-5. According to Kelsen, the new distinction originates in RR1 and is first stated clearly in RR2: RR2, p. 83n.
     ATN, p. 1.
     PTL, p. 58.
     As a European, Kelsen uses the Romanist expression „delict (German, Unrecht or Delikt)‟, which covers both criminal and civil wrongs.
     My example. Part of Kelsen‟s attack on iusnaturalism was to trace the development of the principle of causality and the idea of a causal law out
     of primitive ideas of retribution, imputation and law: e.g. „Causality and Retribution‟ (1941) in WIJ, pp. 303-23; Society and Nature (1943);
     „Causality and Imputation‟ (1950) in WIJ, pp. 324-49. Kelsen investigated the idea of the soul as ground for ideas of retribution: „The Soul and
     the Law‟ (1937) 1 Rev. of Religion pp. 337-60. Kelsen‟s critiques of ancient philosophy may still be of interest; his anthropological ideas remain
     attached to the category of the „primitive‟. See further, (not seen) Kelsen, Die Illusion der Gerechtigkeit. Eine Kritische Untersuchung der
     Sozialphilsophie Platons [The Illusion of Justice. A Critical Enquiry into Plato‟s Social Philosophy], ed. K. Ringhofer and R. Walter (1985).
     PTL, p. 92.
     PTL, pp. 76-81, 87. While the translation of „Zurechnung‟ as „imputation‟ may be as good as any, rendering „Rechtsgesetz‟ as „legal law‟ (PTL,
     pp. 76ff) obscures the analogy with natural science. Kelsen makes the jump from causality to imputation seem more plausible by arguing that the
     principle of causality derives historically from that of imputation and its associate, the idea of retribution: PTL, pp. 82-5.
     ATN, p. 20.
     ATN, p. 18.
     ATN, p. 20; PTL, pp. 85-6.
     GTLS, pp. 162-78; PTL, pp. 101-7. Kelsen insisted on this especially against Ehrlich‟s conceptualisation of sociology of law: GTLS, pp. 24-8;
     see also H. Rottleuthner, „Rechtstheoretische Probleme der Soziologie des Rechts. Die Kontroverse zwischen Hans Kelsen und Eugen Ehrlich
     (1915/1917) [Legal-theoretical Problems of Sociology of Law. The Controversy between Hans Kelsen and Eugen Ehrlich (1915/1917)]‟ in W.
     Krawietz and H. Schelsky (eds), Rechtssystem und gesellschaftliche Basis bei Hans Kelsen (Rechtstheorie, Beiheft 5) (1984), pp. 521-51.
     ATN, pp. 9, 145.
     PTL, p. 73 (translation modified; cp. RR2, p. 75).
     PTL, ch. 8. However, what is interpreted is not, as he says, a norm - for that would be to seek, absurdly, the meaning of a meaning - but the act of
     will whose meaning the norm is: M. Troper, „Kelsen, la Théorie de l‟Interprétation et la Structure de l‟Ordre Juridique [Kelsen, Theory of
     Interpretation and the Structure of the Legal Order]‟ (1981) 138 Revue Internationale de Philosophie pp. 518-29 at 520-1. The interpretation
     should, as Troper notes, be . [304] of a text (or other sign) - but Kelsen distinguishes the act of will from its mode of expression. See, further,
     Kelsen, „On the Theory of Interpretation‟, tr. B.L. and S.L. Paulson (1990) 10 Legal Studies 127-35; Paulson, op. cit., n. 34.
     GTLS, p. 45.
     PTL, p. 72.
     PTL, p. 70 (translation modified; cp. RR2, p. 72). „This is the pure theory‟s position as against the so-called `egological‟ theory of law, which
     takes as the object of legal science not norms but human behaviour, and against the Marxist theory, which conceives law as an aggregate of
     economic relations.‟ (RR2, p. 72n.). See also N. Duxbury, „Carlos Cossio and Egological Legal Philosophy‟ (1989) 2 Ratio Juris 274-82.
     A. Wilson, „Is Kelsen Really a Kantian?‟ in Tur and Twining, op. cit., n. 8, pp. 37-64.
     Economy and Society (1922), tr. various (1968), pp. 4ff. Kelsen occasionally uses „objective‟ in this sense, as meaning „politically unbiased‟: e.g.
     CTL, pp. 96-7.
     Differences in modes of description are ignored in Raz‟s distinctions among types of „committed‟ and „detached‟ statements: J. Raz, „The Purity
     of the Pure Theory‟ (1981) 138 Revue Internationale de Philosophie pp. 441-59 at 453-5 (also in Tur and Twining, op. cit., n. 8, pp. 79-97 at 90-
     3); see also R.J. Vernengo, „Kelsen‟s Rechtssätze as Detached Statements‟ in Tur and Twining, op. cit., n. 8, pp. 99-108.
     Kant usually speaks of „metaphysics‟ as meaning erroneous belief in transcendence, but in this context he uses the word with reference to
     universal postulates.
     I. Kant, Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786, tr. J. Ellington 1970), pp. 5-6.
     Cp. Weinberger, op. cit., n. 45, p. 188.
     „The Pure Theory of Law and Analytical Jurisprudence‟ (1941) in WIJ, pp. 266-87 at 266.
     „The Function of the Pure Theory of Law‟, op. cit., n. 9, pp. 231-2.
     HPS, p. 92; „Zur Soziologie des Rechtes [On Sociology of Law]‟ (1912) 34 Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik pp. 601-14; GTLS,
     pp. 175-7.
     „On the Pure Theory of Law‟, op. cit., n. 9, p. 4.
     CTL, pp. 72-3. Although Kelsen might have been entitled to assume that the idea of „pure theory‟ was familiar in his time, it was still necessary
     to state clearly his own understanding of the expression. Thus R. Stammler wrote of „pure science or theory‟ in a related but importantly different
     sense: The Theory of Justice, op. cit., n. 36, p. 5.
     „Was ist die Reine Rechtslehre? [What is the Pure Theory of Law?]‟ (1953) in WRS, pp. 611-29 at 620.
     CTL, p. 193.
     Cp. G. Lukács, „Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat‟ (1923) in his History and Class Consciousness, tr. R. Livingstone (1971),
     pp. 83-222 at 108-9.
     Kelsen, „Der Staatsbegriff der „verstehenden Soziologie‟ [The Concept of the State in „Interpretive Sociology‟]‟ (1921) 1 Zeitschrift fur
     Volkswirtschaft und Sozialpolitik pp. 104-19; „The Pure Theory of Law‟, op. cit., n. 9, pp. 477-8; GTLS, pp. 162-78; PTL, pp. 2-3, 85-9, 101-7.
      See, further, N. Bobbio, „Max Weber e Hans Kelsen [Max Weber and Hans Kelsen]‟ (1981) 8 Sociologia del Diritto 135-54; A. Carrino, „Weber
      e la Sociologia del Diritto nella Critica di Kelsen [Weber and Sociology of Law in Kelsen‟s Critique]‟ (1987) 14 Sociologia del Diritto 17-32.
      Economy and Society, op. cit., n. 63, p. 4.
      PTL, p. 3.
      PTL, pp. 7-8; RR2, p. 7. The argument is clumsily expressed in both texts.
      GTLS, p. 178.
      HPS, chs 1-2.
      O. Ewald, „Die deutsche Philosophie im Jahre 1911 [German Philosophy in 1911]‟ (1912) 17 Kant-Studien pp. 382-433 at 397-8; Métall, Kelsen,
      pp. 7, 8, 15; H. Cohen, Ethik des reinen Willens [Ethic of Pure Will] (1904).
      GTLS, pp. 99, 191-2.
      ATN, pp. 1-3, 22.
      PTL, p. 47.
      GTLS, pp. 112-13; PTL, pp. 195-8. Kelsen does not confuse „legal order‟ in this sense with the [306] orderliness in society that such an order
      might ensure when it is effective; nor does he assume that law always creates order (PTL, p. 38).
      GTLS, p. 112. My example.
      E.g. E. Ehrlich, „Judicial Freedom of Decision: its Principles and Objects‟ (1903) in various authors, Science of Legal Method, tr. E. Bruncken
      and L.B. Register (1917, 1969) 47-84; Fundamental Principles of the Sociology of Law (1913; tr. W.L. Moll, reissued 1975).
      E.g. PTL, chs. 5 and 8. The behaviour in the particular case may be logically relatable to the behaviour envisaged generally in the norm - but that
      is a subsidiary issue in the realm of „is‟, concerning the norm not as „ought‟ but as to its „content‟: ATN, pp. 26, 39. Logic does not apply even to
      imagined norms, since these are the imagined meaning of an imagined act of will: ATN, pp. 187-8. Kelsen might have added that norms are
      usually imagined before they are called into existence by a real act of will.
             Strictly, however, there is not a norm that may or may not be legally valid: validity in this sense is the norm‟s „specific intellectual (ideell)
       existence‟; strictly, „valid norm‟ is a pleonasm: ATN, pp. 22, 136-8. Not to be confused with ideal (ideal) existence, in e.g. a Platonic sense, or
       with real, material existence: Kelsen in discussion reported in F.-M. Schmölz (ed.), Das Naturrecht in der politischen Theorie (1963), p. 124.
      PTL, pp. 231, 234-5, 255.
      PTL, pp. 267-78.
      PTL, p. 279, cp. 70-1.
      PTL, pp. 279-80; where „Rechtsform und Staatsform (Form of Law and Form of State)‟ (RR2, p. 283), is rendered as „Creation of Law and Form
      of Government‟.
      PTL, pp. 9, 214, 226, 250. See also below, on „primitive‟ law and international law.
      PTL, p. 227.
      PTL, pp. 197-8.
      PTL, p. 196.
      ATN, pp. 6-7.
      ATN, pp 201-2.
      ATN, pp. 33-40. In characterising even moral orders as dynamic, Kelsen supposes that, just as legal norms are applied by organs of the legal
      order, moral norms are applied by organs of the moral order: ATN, p. 42. The meaning of „organ‟ here is diffuse.
      PTL, p. 222.
      FC, p. 118. This sense of „constitution‟ seems to be Kelsen‟s scientifically acceptable substitute for „sources of law‟ in the validation sense, after
      he rejected that expression because it could also refer to historical sources: PTL, p. 233.
      PTL, pp. 234, 236.
      Lukács, quoted in Varga, op. cit., n. 2, p. 148.
      PTL, pp. 211-14. Here Kelsen takes as „typical‟ opponent his former pupil the Scandinavian „legal realist‟ Ross: RR2, p. 215n.
      ATN, pp. 111-14; PTL, pp. 10-12, 211-14 (translation modified). PTL, p. 214, repetitively renders „Recht‟ as both „law‟ and „right‟, and „Macht‟
      as both „power‟ and „might‟: cp. RR2, pp. 220-1. Kelsen has in mind the doctrine of desuetude (desuetudo), known in the Romanist legal
      systems but not in the Common Law systems.
      PTL, p. 27.
      ATN, pp. 43, 108, 115-16; GTLS, pp. 60-1.
      Criticised in GTLS, pp. 62-4. However, Austin‟s Benthamite definition of the sovereign, as the person or body that is habitually obeyed and does
      not habitually obey any other, which is central to his definition of positive law, is also sociological. Kelsen sympathises with this side of Austin
      and only finds his way of using it contradictory.
      ATN, p. 112.
      Hart‟s primary/secondary distinction is in the same direction as Kelsen‟s, but on a different criterion: H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law (1961),
      ch. 5. Hart‟s „secondary rules‟ fall into Kelsen‟s class of „dependent norms‟, which in their dependence on sanctioned norms are indirectly
      coercive: cp. PTL, pp. 54-8. For recent comparisons between Hart and Kelsen, see Beyleveld and Brownsword, `Normative Positivism‟, op. cit.,
      n. 9; van de Kerchove and Ost, op. cit., n. 9 (relating the work of Hart and Kelsen to systems theory).
      FC, p. 111.
      E.g. PTL, pp. 221, 255.
      PTL, pp. 33-42.
      ATN, pp. 115-16; cp. FC, p. 112.
      PTL, pp. 59-69, 111-14.
      ATN, pp. 92-9, 265-6; PTL, pp. 68-9 (translation modified; RR2, p. 71). This holds even for the „general principles of law‟ that the International
      Court of Justice is authorised by its Statute to apply: ATN, pp. 99, 266.
      PTL, pp. 33-42. PTL appears later to deny this extension (p. 111), but the denial is not in RR2 (p. 117); cp. PTL, p. 114.
      His retirement lecture was „What is Justice‟ (1952) in WIJ, pp. 1-24. See also other essays in that book and „Das Problem der Gerechtigkeit‟, op.
      cit., n. 27; J. Bjarup, „Kelsen‟s Theory of Law and Philosophy of Justice‟ in Tur and Twining, op. cit., n. 8, pp. 273-303.
      The Law of the United Nations (1950), p. xiii; cp. GTLS, p. 15; „The Law as a Specific Social Technique‟ (1941) in WIJ, pp. 231-56.
      See e.g. D. Held, Introduction to Critical Theory (1980), ch. 5.
    Cp. A. Renaut, „Kelsen et le Problème de l‟Autonomie du Droit [Kelsen and the Problem of the Autonomy of Law]‟ (1986) 9 Cahiers de
    Philosophie Politique et Juridique pp. 7-21 at 21. Kelsen‟s position is also vulnerable to Foucault‟s critique of technical rationality as a form of
    power in which the subject is denied and reconstructed - although the pure theory may also be taken as useful to a Foucauldian perspective in
    identifying law as a technique of disciplinary power: see esp. CTL, pp. 102-5.
    ATN, p. 105. This refinement appears to be new in ATN.
    ATN, pp. 195-6. The earlier view reeks, to him, of the old theory of legislation as merely the finding and promulgation of natural laws (familiar in
    Common Law countries as the fiction that judges do not make law).
    ATN, pp. 115, 349-50. Previously, Kelsen had rejected Gray‟s approach as supposing that only individual norms exist: PTL, p. 255.
    ATN, p. 196n.
    ATN, pp. 199-200.
    „Was ist die Reine Rechtslehre?‟, op. cit., n. 73, at 616-18 (this passage tr. in Weinberger, op. cit., n. 45, pp. 189-90).
          Thus legal norms do not „teach‟, only legal propositions describing them: ATN, pp. 103-6. In Kelsen‟s terms, the educative role of law, e.g.
     in anti-discrimination laws, would operate through description of legal norms, mainly in the press.
    ATN, p. 190. A reference to the basic norm as „the constitution in the legal-logical sense (die Verfassung im rechtslogischen Sinne)‟ (RR2, p. 232;
    changed to „the “constitution” in the transcendental-logical sense‟ in PTL, p. 226) might be understood to refer to the logicality of legal
    propositions, including a basic norm. The occasional references to „the logical relation of norms‟ (PTL, p. 339) and „contradiction‟ between
    norms (PTL, pp. 206, 350, 352) are harder to explain: since, however, they are made in passing, there is room to take them to refer infelicitously
    to the norm as presented in the legal proposition. The alternative, and of course defensible, view has produced the impression that Kelsen thought
    logic did apply to norms and, in the 1960s, changed his mind: e.g. Weinberger, op. cit., n. 45, pp. 192-4. R.J. Vernengo valuably argues that
    Kelsen usually saw logic as having „an epistemological tinge according to the traditional Kantian heritage‟ or later, „under the influence of
    phenomenology, an ontological foundation‟ and became familiar with modern formal logic only „in his last years and then not without
    ambiguities‟: „About an Empowerment Theory of Legal Norms and Some Related Problems‟ (1989) 2 Ratio Juris 299-303 at 300.
    ATN, pp. 203-5. The third case echoes Holmes‟ definition of law as the „prophecies of what the courts will do in fact‟: O.W. Holmes, „The Path
    of the Law‟ (1897) 10 Harvard Law Rev. pp. 457-78 at 461. But the echo is distorted: these prophecies would be expressed in laws of law, not
    legal norms themselves; yet in any case such prophecy belongs to the realm of legal advice, not scientific description: PTL, pp. 87-9; GTLS, pp.
[307] 131 ATN, pp. 99-101.
    PTL, p. 18.
    ATN, pp. 101-3. See also papers by Harris, Paulson and Weyland in Tur and Twining, op. cit., n. 8.
    ATN, pp. 81, 106-7; PTL, p. 245-50.
    ATN, pp. 351-2.
    ATN, pp. 25ff. Kelsen awkwardly conceives self-addressing as a relation between oneself as „ego‟ and as „alter ego‟: ATN, pp. 23-4.
    ATN, pp. 39-43, 191-3.
    Cp. ATN, p. 37.
    PTL, pp. 191-2.
    ATN, p. 7; PTL, pp. 165-6 (translation modified: RR2, pp. 169-70), 169.
    PTL, chs. 6 and 7; GTLS, pt. 2.
    PTL, pp. 280-4; GTLS, pp. 201-7.
    PTL, p. 177.
    PTL, pp. 145-68, 256-62.
    PTL, pp. 280-4 (translation modified: RR2, pp. 284-7). Kelsen actually writes „systematic‟ where he clearly means „systemic‟.
    ATN, pp. 108-11; PTL, pp. 114-17, 125-45.
    PTL, p. 169.
    PTL, pp. 117, 168-91; GTLS, pp. 93-109, 377.
    PTL, pp. 32, 35ff, 266-7, 284-319. Throughout PTL, „staatliche Rechtsordnung‟ is rendered as „national legal order‟—which both dilutes the key
    thesis of the identity of (total) legal order and state, and implies that Kelsen naïvely assumes that „state‟ and „nation‟ always coincide.
    PTL, pp. 320-4.
    PTL, pp. 324-8.
    PTL, pp. 328-33; reading „state‟ instead of „national‟.
    „The Pure Theory of Law and Analytical Jurisprudence‟, op. cit., n. 68, p. 287.
    As Hart says, „we might as well attempt to deduce from the existence of the history of warfare or the science of strategy that all wars are one or all
    armies are one‟: „Kelsen‟s Doctrine of the Unity of Law‟, op. cit., n. 6, p. 322.
    PTL, pp. 328-47. Cp. GTLS, esp. p. 388; Peace Through Law (1944). The issue, of course, affects questions of federalism.
    The expression of the distinction here depends on the distinction between legal norm and legal proposition.
    Kelsen‟s fairly early characterisation of the basic norm as a „minimum‟ of natural law („Natural Law Doctrine and Legal Positivism‟, op. cit., n.
    20, p. 437) cannot survive his later distinguishing between legal norm and legal proposition. What applies to the distinction between international
    and local law also applies to issues of federalism.
    Esp. FC; PTL, pp. 193-211 (translation modified), 223. When Kelsen expresses the difference between the two situations by saying that in the
    robber‟s case „an evil will be inflicted‟ whereas in that of the tax official „an evil ought to be inflicted‟ (PTL, p. 45), he anticipates Hart‟s „gunman
    situation‟ distinction between being obliged and having an obligation: Hart, op. cit., n. 111, pp. 19ff, 80ff.
    PTL, pp. 44-50; cp. Augustine, City of God, bk. 4, ch. 4. Hart appears to begin from a Weberian standpoint, yet Hart‟s „external point of view‟
    applies only to values and not to description of what is to be valued, and from Kelsen‟s standpoint Hart‟s „recognition‟ theory is vulnerable to
    Kelsen‟s much earlier criticisms of Bierling: Hart, The Concept of Law, op. cit., n. 111, passim; PTL, p. 218n.; J. Raz, op. cit., n. 64.
    FC, p. 117; ATN, pp. 206-7; cp. H. Vaihinger, The Philosophy of ‘As If’ (1911; tr. C.K. Ogden, 2nd edn. 1935), pp. 97-100. Kelsen had been
    aware of Vaihinger‟s book and its conceptualisation of fictions since at least 1919: „Zur Theorie der juristischen Fiktionen: mit besonderer
    Berücksichtigung von Vaihingers Philosophie des Als-ob [On the Theory of Legal Fictions: with particular reference to Vaihinger‟s Philosophy
    of As-If]‟ (1919) in WRS, pp. 1215-41. The „fiction‟ version of the „basic norm‟ concept was first announced in discussion reported in Schmölz,
    op. cit., n. 89, pp. 119-20. The full argument is given in FC and ATN. It is presented only partially when it first appears in English: „On the Pure
    Theory of Law‟, op. cit., n. 9, p. 6.
[308] 161 „Was ist ein Rechtsakt? [What is a Legal Act?]‟ (1952) in WRS, pp. 1381-93 at 1390-1.
      PTL, p. 204n.
      C. Martyniak, „Le Problème de l‟Unité des Fondements de la Théorie de Droit de Kelsen [The Problem of the Unity of the Bases of Kelsen‟s
      Theory of Law]‟ (1937) 7 Archives de Philosophie du Droit et de Sociologie Juridique 166-90 at 185; compare H. Klenner, Rechtsleere [A Legal
      Void (an awful pun on Rechtslehre, legal theory)] (1972), p. 39.
      Cp. N. Lavand, „Hans Kelsen ou le Cubisme [Hans Kelsen or Cubism]‟ (1986) 9 Cahiers de Philosophie Politique et Juridique 95-114.
      J. Wróblewski, „Kelsen, the Is-Ought Dichotomy and Naturalistic Fallacy [sic]‟ (1981) 138 Revue Internationale de Philosophie 508-17 at 515. I
      have suggested elsewhere a philosophical equivalent of paint and canvas: „Closure and the Legal Norm: an Essay in Critique of Law‟ (1987) 50
      Modern Law Rev. 908-33 at 916-22.
      Varga, op. cit., n. 2, p. 137.
      See, further, my „Kelsen and the Exegetical Tradition‟ in Tur and Twining, op. cit., n. 8, pp. 123-47; „Closure and the Legal Norm‟, op. cit., n.
      165; P. Amselek, „Kelsen et les Contradictions du Positivisme Juridique [Kelsen and the Contradictions of Legal Positivism]‟ (1981) 138 Revue
      Internationale de Philosophie 460-73.
      As does Pashukanis, op. cit., n. 6.
      Thus, Kelsen‟s critique of Pashukanis does not take seriously Pashukanis‟s analyses of „legal fetishism‟: CTL, pp. 89-111.
      On the relation of the pure theory to Marxism, see generally the Hans Kelsen-Institut symposium Reine Rechtslehre und marxistische
      Rechtstheorie [Pure Theory of Law and Marxist Theory of Law] (1978). Kelsen fell into the error of understanding Marxism solely as the Eastern
      Marxism of economic determinism, whose capacity for critical legal theory was very limited: CTL, especially p. vii. However, Kelsen‟s
      opposition to Marxism was not bigoted: his willingness to take Marxist thinking seriously (e.g. „Allgemeine Rechtslehre im Lichte
      materialistischer Geschichtsauffassung [General Theory of Law in the Light of the Materialist Conception of History]‟ (1931) 66 Archiv fur
      Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik 449-521) nearly got him into an extermination camp.
      Although occasionally he examines common modes of expression, he does so speculatively, in order to clarify his own vocabulary; he does not
      treat such expressions as evidence of meaning, in the manner of „ordinary language‟ philosophy or of semiotics (e.g. the discussion of „law‟,
      „Recht‟, etc. in PTL, pp. 30-1). The greater attention to language in his last book is just painful: for one thing, his conception of linguistic
      meaning is wholly referential, with no grasp of Wittgenstein‟s (or Bentham‟s) conception of meaning as use, though Wittgenstein is occasionally
      cited (ATN, pp. 24-32). Indeed, his differentiation between an act of will or thought and a speech act may be a deliberate evasion of linguistic
      philosophy. However, Kelsen‟s attention solely to logic does not, by itself, exclude the possibility of adding into his theory an examination of
      legal norms as rhetoric.
      Criticism that is merely negative tends to preserve the terms of that which it negates; to emancipate, criticism needs to transform the subject
      matter of the critique.
      See C. Schmitt, „The Leader Protects the Law‟ (1934), tr. I. Stewart (forthcoming in International J. of the Sociology of Law).

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