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H.L.A. Hart, Second Edition$
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Neil MacCormick

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804756785

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804756785.001.0001

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Obligation, Duty, Wrongdoing

Obligation, Duty, Wrongdoing

(p.73) Chapter Six Obligation, Duty, Wrongdoing
H.L.A. Hart, Second Edition
Stanford University Press

According to H. L. A. Hart, the distinguishing feature of morality and of law is their obligatory character. By giving rise to obligations, morality and law make conduct non-optional. Hart's theory of social rules offers an explanation for this use of the concept “obligation” as a concept common to, and special to, law and morality. He argues that there is a special class of rules whose special characteristics make them distinct from other rules as “rules of obligation” or “obligation imposing rules.” Hart proposes three distinctive features of the rules of obligation: seriousness of social pressure behind the rule, importance of the values promoted by its observance, and possible conflict between an agent's wishes and what the rule prescribes. This chapter comments on Hart's arguments about obligation, duty, and wrongdoing.

Keywords:   H. L. A. Hart, law, morality, obligation, rules of obligation, social rules, social pressure, duty, wrongdoing

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