The Concept of Law - Chapter 2, Laws, Commands, and Orders Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 2, Laws, Commands, and Orders Summary and Analysis

The most serious attempt to analyze the concept of law is Austin's Province of Jurisprudence Determined. The object of criticism in this and the next two chapters is a position that is importantly similar to Austin's. On this view, law is understood as a command such as "Go home!" rather than a request, "Could you pass the salt?" or a warning like "Look out for the bus." Laws are orders or imperatives. And the imperatives are backed by coercion.

In modern societies, it is rare for individuals to explicitly order someone to do something in person; yet laws are coercive. Laws do not themselves coerce but they specify who may coerce and when. Legal control is thus in a sense general; it applies to a large group or classes of person. Making laws...

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