A Life of H. L. A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream by Nicola Lacey

By Nicola Lacey

H.L.A. Hart was once the pre-eminent criminal thinker of the 20th century. As a pupil he single-handedly reinvented the philosophy of legislations and revolutionized our knowing of legislations as a social establishment. Hart's method of felony philosophy used to be immediately disarmingly uncomplicated and breathtakingly bold, combining the insights of the Utilitarian culture and the hot linguistic philosophy of J.L. Austin and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He sought to explain an idea of legislations that will be of relevance to all different types of legislations, anyplace or at any time when they arose.

This publication is either an highbrow and a mental biography, following his lifestyles from modest origins because the son of Jewish tailor mom and dad in Yorkshire to all over the world popularity because the so much influential English-speaking felony theorist of the post-War period. It lines his successive metamorphoses; from Yorkshire schoolboy to Oxford pupil, winning barrister, intelligence officer, thinker, and, eventually, Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford.

Nicola Lacey attracts upon Hart's formerly unpublished diaries and letters to bare a posh inside existence. Outwardly profitable, Hart used to be actually suffering from doubts approximately his highbrow skills, his sexual identification and his capability to shape shut relationships. Her biography additionally sheds attention-grabbing gentle at the origins of his rules, and assesses his total contribution to the philosophy of legislations. specially, it's a chronicle of a existence which made an influence a ways more than many people realize.

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In this field, his impact could be compared with that of, say, Wittgenstein in general philosophy. He was, quite simply, the pre-eminent English-speaking legal philosopher of the twentieth century. He had also had a marked influence on social policy debates of the 1960s. Hart’s writings on abortion, on the legalization of homosexuality and prostitution, and on capital punishment had a huge impact on informed opinion. 2) the propriety of using law to enforce conventional morality, parts of which were broadcast by the BBC, was probably the debate of the decade: it is still read by practically all students of law, politics, and sociology.

My greatest debt, however, has been to a small number of colleagues, family, and friends who read and commented on the whole of the manuscript. xiii) Gill McAndrew was my ideal ‘lay’ reader, and even managed to convince me that her endorsement was not entirely do with her being my mother; Ngaire Naffine improved, among other things, my prose, with her meticulous editorial eye; Joseph Raz put me right on a number of important points and gave invaluable advice; Jerry Postema and David Richards each gave me overwhelming encouragement and helped me to think through a number of issues.

Readers will differ in their view of how satisfactorily I have resolved them. I started by familiarizing myself with the side of Herbert Hart about which I knew least, by reading his collection of diaries, notebooks, and correspondence. I then re-read his work chronologically. By this stage some clear ideas and themes were emerging, and I used these to construct an outline for the book and a set of interview questions. I then interviewed or corresponded with many of his family, friends, colleagues, and students before beginning to write the book.

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