Hohfeld vs. the legal realists

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2018 marked the centenary of Wesley Hohfeld's untimely passing. Curiously, in recent years quite a few legal historians and philosophers have identified him as a Legal Realist. This article argues that Hohfeld was no such thing, that his work need not be understood in such lights either, and that he in fact made a smaller contribution to jurisprudence than is generally believed. He has nothing to do with theories of official decision-making that identify, among other things, extra-legal factors as the real drivers of judicial decision-making, nor must his schema of jural relations advance a Realist political agenda. Distinguishing Hohfeld from the Realists will help to correct some misunderstandings about his work and point to its utility in many more contexts than a Realist reading of it allows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-344
Number of pages54
JournalLegal Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

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