Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

H.L.A. Hart Interviewed

Hart, along with Hans Kelsen, was one of the two great figures in legal philosophy of the past century.  This wide-ranging interview a few years before his death covers the personal, professional, and intellectual.  The quality of the audio is uneven, and a transcript is forthcoming.  OUP has released the audio to mark the publication of the Third Edition of The Concept of Law, which includes a new, very useful introduction by Leslie Green and new notes, also prepared by Green, identifying the key literature since Hart discussing the issues he raises.

The part of the interview concerning Ronald Dworkin is particularly revealing, and consistent with what I've noted before about Dworkin's reputation among legal philosophers.  Asked to comment on Dworkin, Hart describes his criticisms of legal positivism as "really very mistaken" and says Dworkin "goes over the board," but adds that he is a "marvelously gifted expositor...on his feet," knows more logic than Hart does, and has "wonderful writing" on American constitutional law in The New York Review of Books.  This is a nice example of what Paul Grice dubbed conversational implicature, in which we infer meaning not from what the speaker explicitly said, but from what the speaker chose to say in the context.  (In Grice's example, a letter of recommendation for an academic job candidate that says only that, "Mr. Smith has a beautiful handwriting and is neatly dressed" implies that Mr. Smith is a poor candidate, since a letter for an academic job candidate should mention the relevant, positive features of the candidate, if he has any!)

http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2012/12/hla-hart-interviewed.html

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