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By showing how Kelsen's theory of law works alongside his political philosophy, the book shows the Pure Theory to be part of a wider attempt to understand how political power can be legitimately exercised in pluralist societies.
Positivist legal theorists inspired by Kelsen's work failed to appreciate the political-theoretical potential of the Pure Theory of Law and thus turned to a narrow agnosticism about the functions of law. The Pure Theory of Law, I conclude, may offer a paradigm of jurisprudential thought that could reconnect jurisprudence with political theory as it was traditionally understood: namely as a reflection on the best constitution and on the contribution that different legal actors and institutions can make to its realization.
Kelsen, Hans. Pure Theory of Law. Translation from the Second German Edition by Max Knight. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967. x, 356 pp. Reprinted 2005 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN 1-58477-578-5. Paperbound. $36.95 * Second revised and enlarged edition, a complete revision of the first edition published in 1934. A landmark in the development of modern jurisprudence, the pure theory of law defines law as a system of coercive norms created by the state that rests on the validity of a generally accepted Grundnorm, or basic norm, such as the supremacy of the Constitution. Entirely self-supporting, it rejects any concept derived from metaphysics, politics, ethics, sociology, or the natural sciences. Beginning with the medieval reception of Roman law, traditional jurisprudence has maintained a dual system of "subjective" law (the rights of a person) and "objective" law (the system of norms). Throughout history this dualism has been a useful tool for putting the law in the service of politics, especially by rulers or dominant political parties. The pure theory of law destroys this dualism by replacing it with a unitary system of objective positive law that is insulated from political manipulation. Possibly the most influential jurisprudent of the twentieth century, Hans Kelsen [1881-1973] was legal adviser to Austria's last emperor and its first republican government, the founder and permanent advisor of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Austria, and the author of Austria's Constitution, which was enacted in 1920, abolished during the Anschluss, and restored in 1945. The author of more than forty books on law and legal philosophy, he is best known for this work and General Theory of Law and State. Also active as a teacher in Europe and the United States, he was Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna and taught at the universities of Cologne and Prague, the Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Harvard, Wellesley, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Naval War College.Also available in cloth.
Die von Hans Kelsen im Jahre 1934 vorgelegte "Reine Rechtslehre" gehört zu den rechtstheoretischen Schlüsselschriften des 20. Jahrhunderts. In ihr entwickelt Kelsen erstmals systematisch seine einerseits das Recht von der Moral, andererseits die Norm vom Faktum konsequent scheidende, ideologiekritische Rechtstheorie. Wer auf der Höhe der Zeit über Struktur und Geltung von Recht und die Eigenart von Rechtswissenschaft, kurz: wer über das Rechtliche am Recht nachdenken will, kommt an der "Reine[n] Rechtslehre" nicht vorbei. Die Erstauflage der "Reine[n] Rechtslehre", die weltweit in rund ein Dutzend Sprachen übersetzt worden ist, wurde in deutscher Sprache mehrfach nachgedruckt, ist indes derzeit vergriffen. Sie wird hier in Gestalt einer Studienausgabe vorgelegt, die am Recht Interessierte zum Hineinlesen ermutigen und zum kritischen Nach- und Weiterdenken einladen möchte.
Who presupposes Kelsen's basic norm? Is it possible to defend the presupposition in a way that is convincing? And what difference does the presupposition make? Endeavouring to highlight the role of basic assumptions in the law, the author argues that the verb "to presuppose', with Kelsen, has not only a conceptual but also a normative dimension; and that the expression 'presupposing the basic norm'is adequate in so far as it marks the descriptive-normative nature of utterances made in specifically legal speech-situations. Addressed to legal theorists in general, the treatise purports to show that Kelsen's doctrine lends itself to an interpretation according to which the very act of "presupposing" the Grundnorm can be understood as a Grund, i.e. normative source of all positive law; and, what is more, that this interpretation admits of addressing the issue of the (formal) legitimacy of supra-national and directly applicable rules and other norms.

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