Category Archives: H. L. A. Hart

  H. L. A. Hart

Some, I know, find the political and moral insight of the Utilitarians a very simple one, but we should not mistake this simplicity for superficiality nor forget how favorably their simplicities compare with the profoundities of other thinkers.

H. L. A. Hart, ‘Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals’, Harvard Law Review, vol. 71, no. 4 (February, 1958), p. 596

H. L. A. Hart

Surely if we have learned anything from the history of morals it is that the thing to do with a moral quandary is not to hide it. Like nettles, the occasions when life forces us to choose between the lesser of two evils must be grasped with the consciousness that they are what they are. The vice of this use of the principle that, at certain limiting points, what is utterly immoral cannot be law or lawful is that it will serve to cloak the true nature of the problems with which we are faced and will encourage the romantic optimism that all the values we cherish ultimately will fit into a single system, that no one of them has to be sacrificed or compromised to accommodate another.

H. L. A. Hart, ‘Separation of Law and Morals’, in Ronald Dworkin (ed.), The Philosophy of Law, Oxford, 1977, p. 33