Definition: The school of thought that believes that the only source of law is written law that is adopted, practiced and enforced in society by the government and legal systems.

Can We Help with Your Assignment?

Let us do your homework! Professional writers in all subject areas are available and will meet your assignment deadline. Free proofreading and copy-editing included.


  • Written – so that all citizen known their obligations, rights and consequences
  • Curb judicial discretion – preventing emotional involvement

Important Contributors:

  • Jeremy Bentham – “greatest good for the greatest number”  & Utilitarian
  • John Austin – Law is separate from justice and issued by the sovereign
  • H.L.A Hart –  Separation Thesis

Separation thesis: having a legal right to do x doesn’t entail having a moral right to

do it, and vice versa; having a legal obligation to do something doesn’t entail

having a moral right to do it, and vice versa; having a legal justification to do

something doesn’t entail having a moral justification, and vice versa; etc.

The ultimate test of the validity of legal positivism is whether the presence of explicit rules deters undesirable behaviour.”


  • Clearly outlines rights, freedoms and obligations
  • Sets a standard of Practice
  • Structures and stabilize society
  • Punishes all crimes regardless of motives


  • Very Strict
  • Does not consider individual and societal factors
  • More difficult to challenge and change laws

Case Study

  • Description: Tale- Yax was a homeless man stabbed to death after saving a women harassed by a knife-wielding attacker.
  • 25 people walked by without trying to get him help.
  • 1 person lifted the body and saw the blood but still simply left without calling 911.
  • 1 Person simply took a picture and walked away
  • No arrests were made.
Types of Legal Evidence

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Legal Positivism," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments