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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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Powers and Power-Conferring Rules

Powers and Power-Conferring Rules

(p.94) Chapter Seven Powers and Power-Conferring Rules
H.L.A. Hart, Second Edition
Stanford University Press

When one makes a promise, he is “opting in” to a particular obligation. A promise is an obligation, regardless of ulterior intention or motive. H. L. A. Hart refers to the making of a promise the exercise of “a power.” One can voluntarily opt in to the conditional obligation it stipulates because that is the condition on the obligation, one's voluntarily opting in. Hart has argued that powers give us “facilities,” but we must be careful about that in such a case as promising. In any classification of the so-called “normative powers,” in this case “moral powers,” at least four types of power must be considered: power to incur obligation, power to impose obligation, power to confer power, and power to release from obligation. This chapter discusses Hart's concept of powers and power-conferring rules and examines legal institutions and individuation of rules, along with private powers and public institutions.

Keywords:   H. L. A. Hart, powers, power-conferring rules, obligation, promise, legal institutions, private powers, public institutions, normative powers, moral powers

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