This book develops a historical concept of liberal democratic law through readings of the pivotal twentieth century legal theoretical positions articulated in the work of Herbert Hart, Ronald Dworkin, Duncan Kennedy, Rudolf Smend, Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt.
It assesses the jurisprudential projects and positions of these theorists against the background of a long history of European metaphysics from which the modern concept of liberal democratic law emerged. Two key narratives are central to this history of European political and legal metaphysics. Both concern the historical development of the concept of nomos that emerged in early Greek legal and political thought. The first concerns the history of philosophical reflection on the epistemological and ontological status of legal concepts that runs from Plato to Hobbes (the realist-nominalist debate as it became known later). The second concerns the history of philosophical and political discourses on law, sovereignty and justice that starts with the nomos-physis debate in fifth century Athens and runs through medieval, modern and twentieth century conceptualisations of the relationship between law and power. Methodologically, the reading of the legal theoretical positions of Hart, Dworkin, Kennedy, Smend, Kelsen and Schmitt articulated in this book is presented as a distillation process that extracts the pure elements of liberal democratic law from the metaphysical narratives that not only cradled it, but also smothered and distorted its essential aspirations.
Drawing together key insights from across the fields of jurisprudence and philosophy, this book offers an important and original re-articulation of the concept of democratic law.