Anarchy and Law

Jonathan Crowe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


Legal philosophy today is dominated, for better or worse, by legal positivism—the view that the only necessary factor in determining whether something counts as law is recognition by social sources. The limitations of Austin’s definition of law were famously critiqued by H. L. A. Hart, generally acknowledged as the central figure of contemporary analytical jurisprudence. The idea of law is closely associated in everyday social and political discussions with the pronouncements of state authorities, such as executive officers, legislators, and judges. The notion of consensual law can be extended beyond interpersonal agreements to institutional mechanisms. A number of existing models show how voluntary legal institutions might operate. Consensual law represents one way in which recognisably law-like methods of social ordering can emerge without relying on the acknowledgement of any centralised legal authority. The common law method thus ensures that law reflects aggregated information actual disputes rather than being based on simplified models of social interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Anarchy and Anarchist Thought
EditorsGary Chartier, Chad Van Schoelandt
Place of PublicationOxon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781315185255
ISBN (Print)9781138737587
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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