chapter  4
26 Pages

THE POLITICS OF POSITIVISM

The theory of man's constitution which underpinned Thomas Hobbes's theory of the political constitution was founded in his understanding of physical and natural science. A generation after Hobbes, another social contractarian, John Locke, confirmed the particular relation between the jurisprudence of legal positivism and the Whig interpretation of the British constitution as it was apparently confirmed by the ‘Great and Glorious’ Revolution of 1689. There is an implicitly anarchistic streak to the sceptical tradition; something which inheres a very obvious paradox. The same basic political philosophy, of radical utility and liberty, it seems, can promote both the most rigorous jurisprudence, that of legal positivism, and also the most virulent critique of the very idea of law, philosophical anarchism. The role of the State must be to preserve the fluidity and to maintain the political conditions for economic and social liberty, and laws must be limited to preventing any economic exchange which might unduly injure another party.