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date: 17 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Hegel was neither a lawyer nor primarily a legal theorist, but his writings make a significant influence to the understanding of legal philosophy. Nevertheless, there is disagreement about where Hegel’s importance lies. This chapter argues that Hegel’s philosophy of law is best understood as a natural law theory. But what is interesting about Hegel’s view is that it represents a distinctive alternative to how most natural law theories are traditionally conceived. Hegel’s philosophy is remarkable for providing an entirely new way of thinking about the relation between law and morality than had been considered before. It is the distinctiveness of his legal philosophy that has rendered so difficult a categorization into standard jurisprudential schools of thought. There is little that is standard in Hegel’s innovative understanding of law. This has importance for other areas of his thinking, such as his novel theory of punishment and understanding of the common law.

Keywords: Hegel, legal philosophy, legal theory, natural law, punishment

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