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The Legal Relation
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Paulson, Stanley L. 2018. The Purity Thesis. Ratio Juris, Vol. 31, Issue. 3, p. 276.

    Siliquini-Cinelli, Luca 2018. Vilhelm Lundstedt’s ‘Legal Machinery’ and the Demise of Juristic Practice. Law and Critique, Vol. 29, Issue. 2, p. 241.


Book description

What is law? The usual answer is that the law is a system of norms. But this answer gives us at best half of the story. The law is a way of relating to one another. We do not do this as lovers or friends and not as people who are interested in obtaining guidance from moral insight. In a legal context, we are cast as 'character masks' (Marx), for example, as 'buyer' and 'seller' or 'landlord' and 'tenant'. We expect to have our claims respected simply because the law has given us rights. We do not want to give any other reason for our behavior than the fact that we have a legal right. Backing rights up with coercive threats indicates that we are willing to accept legal obligations unwillingly. This book offers a conceptual reconstruction of the legal relation on the basis of a critique of legal positivism.


‘Alexander Somek, at the height of his powers, has already enjoyed a long and distinguished career. He is, unlike most of us, altogether at home in both worlds – the Anglophone world with its myopia and the Continental European world with its vast perspectives but, all too often, with analysis that falls short of the mark. Alexander Somek brings the best of both worlds together, and his manuscript is a welcome effort to redress the balance in favor of, as he puts it, a post-legal positivist theory of law.'

Stanley L. Paulson - Washington University, St. Louis

‘A mature masterpiece equaling Hart's Concept of Law or Dworkins Law's Empire in jurisprudential ambition, originality and sophistication, The Legal Relation is the most important Continental European contribution to jurisprudence in the new millennium.'

Mattias Kumm - Inge Rennert Proffessor of Law at the New York University School of Law and Professor of Global Public Law in the Berlin Social Science Center

‘With this bold and provocative book, Somek brilliantly reimagines legal positivism. Every legal philosopher must read this book. The argument is imaginative, penetrating, and ultimately convincing.'

Dennis Patterson - Board of Governors Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School, Camden, New Jersey

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