New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

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This paper evaluates and criticizes the account of international law given in Chapter Ten of H.L.A. Hart's book, The Concept of Law. Hart's account offers a few insights -- particularly on the relation between law and sanctions. But his account of international law is moistly quite impoverished. His observations about the absence of secondary rules (rules of change, adjudication, and recognition ) in international law are quite unjustified. His exaggeration of the difference between international law and municipal legal systems is so grotesquely exaggerated, as to deprive the former account of almost all its utility in jurisprudence. What is worse, his dismissive and misconceived account of international law has tended to drive practitioners of analytic legal philosophy away form addressing this important area of jurisprudence.

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gnereal jurisprudence, Hart, international law, primitive legal system, rule of recognition, sanctions, secondary rules, treaties