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Engle, E. (2014). Post Positivism. Duncker & Humblot.
Engle, Eric. Post Positivism. Duncker & Humblot, 2014. Book.
Engle, E (2014): Post Positivism, Duncker & Humblot, [online]


Post Positivism

Engle, Eric

Schriften zur Rechtstheorie, Vol. 270


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About The Author

Eric Engle (JD, St Louis, DEA, Paris, LLM DrJur Bremen) ist Lehrbeauftragter an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, wo er Verfassungsrecht, Gesellschaftsrecht und Vertragsrecht der Vereinigten Staaten Amerikas lehrt. Zuvor unterrichtete er Rechtslehre und Europarecht am Pericles LL.M Institut, Moskau, sowie an der Universität Tartu, Estland. Vorlesungen in U.S.-Gesellschaftsrecht und U.S.-Deliktsrecht an der Universität Bremen.

Eric Engle (JD, St. Louis, DEA, Paris, LL.M. Dr.Jur. Bremen) currently teaches law at Humboldt Universität Berlin. He has taught law in France, Germany, Estonia, and Russia. He speaks English, French, and German fluently, and also speaks Spanish, Russian, and Estonian. He has published several dozen law review articles.


Post-positivism presents a materialist, holist, monist, cognitivist theory of law and justice. It argues that positivism and natural law are complementary, not conflicting, and that normative inference (is-to-ought) can be a valid form of logical reasoning. These are two key breaks from 20th Century legal theory, which wrongly assumed that normative inferencing was logically flawed and consequently that positivism and natural law were logically contradictory. David Hume never rejected normative inferencing. Hume's counsel was that whoever wishes to make a normative inference must express their implicit premises. Normative propositions can be recast as logical conditionals and thus be used as premises of syllogisms. Laws are best understood as logical conditionals (if-then statements). Logic consists of two branches, theoretical rationality and practical reasoning. The inadequacy of binary logic to accurately describe law is seen in several logical paradoxes about law, which can be avoided by multivariate logic.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Preface 5
Table of Contents 13
Chapter 1: Method: Ontology, Epistemology, Axiology 25
A. Introduction 25
B. Ontology: Materialism v. Philosophical Idealism 31
C. Epistemology: Realism v. Atomism 32
I. Atomism 33
II. Critique of Atomism and, by Extension, (International Relations) Realism 34
III. Holism 37
IV. Critiques of Holism 37
V. Is it Possible to Synthesize Holist and Atomist Methods? 38
D. Axiology: Relativism (Post-modernism and Neo-liberals) v. Cognitivism (Classical Liberals) 39
E. A New Natural Law Theory of International Relations 39
F. Conclusion 43
Chapter 2: Legal Theory in Antiquity: Aristotle 46
A. Introduction 46
B. Aristotle’s Contributions to Legal Science 46
I. Logic and Dialectical Reasoning 46
II. Tort Law: Causality is Rooted in Aristotle’s Thought 49
C. Aristotle and Justice 49
I. Political Justice – A Relation 50
1. Elements and Origins of the Polis 51
a) The Family 51
b) The Individual: Dependency 51
2. Inequality 52
a) The Condition of Slaves 52
b) The Condition of Women 52
3. Rationality 53
4. State of Nature? 53
5. The Ends of the Polis 54
a) The Good 54
b) Autarchy 54
II. Typology of Justice According to Aristotle 54
1. The Just Man, Justice, and Just Acts 55
a) The Just Man 55
b) Universal Justice (the Lawful) 55
c) Just Acts: Justice in the Particular (Fairness) 55
2. Distributive Justice ("Geometric" Justice) 55
3. Corrective Justice (arithmetic justice) 56
III. Critique of the Aristotelian Theory of Justice 56
1. What are the Sources of Inequality? 56
2. What are the Consequences of Inequality? 57
a) Limitation of the Development of Individuals 57
b) Limitation of the Development of the Polis 57
c) Economic Inequality 58
IV. Global Elements of Justice: Volition and Equity 58
1. The Relation between Volition and Culpability: Aristotle’s Influence on the Concept of Culpability in the Common Law 59
2. Equity 59
D. Criticisms of Aristotle 60
E. Aristotle and Foucault 63
F. Conclusion 64
Chapter 3: Pre Modern Theory: Medieval Scholasticism and the Universals (1400–1600) 65
A. Introduction 65
B. Problématique 65
C. History: From Realism to Nominalism by Way of the Universals 66
I. The Scholastics 66
1. External Contradictions 66
2. Internal Contradictions 67
II. The Universals 68
1. Verum 68
a) Truth Scepticism: Nietzsche – The Will to Truth 69
b) Moral Relativism: Freud and Psychological Interpretation 71
c) The American Realists 71
aa) Fact Sceptics 71
bb) Rules Sceptics 72
2. Bonum 73
3. Unum 75
D. Logic: Indeterminacy and Decidability 75
I. Gödel 76
II. Quine 77
1. Linguistic Indeterminacy 77
2. Paradox 78
a) Definition of Paradox 78
b) Self Reference 79
c) Paradoxes of the State 81
d) The Paradox of Omnipotence and Self-limitation 81
e) Paradox of Universal Truth 81
III. Raz and the Paradox of Authority 82
IV. Kelsen and the Paradox of the Prescription of Prescription 83
V. Juridical Functions as Determining Legal Knowledge 83
1. The Maintenance of Order 84
2. Prediction 84
E. Conclusion: The Temporary Victory of Relativism 85
I. Volontarism 85
II. Relativism 85
Chapter 4: Into Modernity: Natural Law and Normative Inference 86
A. Introduction: The Contemporary View 86
B. The False Dichotomy of Either Positivism or Natural Law but not Both 91
I. Aristotle 91
II. Hobbes 95
III. The Implications of Re-cognizing the False Dichotomy of "Naturalism v. Positivism" 98
C. Normative Inferencing 99
I. Hume’s Trap 99
II. Hume and Kelsen 102
III. Conclusion 107
Chapter 5: Modernity: Social Contract and Natural Law 109
A. Natural Rights 112
I. Foundation of Natural Law in Intellectual Realism 112
II. Human Rights 118
1. The Central Function of Human Rights is Political Legitimation 118
2. The Idea of Human Rights is Necessarily Ambiguous 118
a) Universal Terminology is a Source of Ambiguity in Human Rights 118
b) The Multiplicity of Theoretical Sources of Law is the Source of the Ambiguity Inherent in Human Rights 119
c) The Multiplicity of Legal Sources is also at the Root of the Ambiguity of Human Rights 119
d) The Quest for Political Legitimacy based on Human Rights is Unworkable because of the Ambiguity Inherent in the Idea of Human Rights 120
B. Social Contract Theory 120
I. The State of Nature 121
II. The Social Contract 122
C. Contemporary Social Contract Theorists 124
I. Ronald Dworkin 124
1. Dworkin on Natural Law and Positivism 125
a) Principles and Policies 126
b) Intensive Reiteration to Exhaustion of a Fundamental Principle 127
c) The Inductive Deductive Method 128
2. Dworkin versus Posner on Law and Economics 129
3. Conclusion: A Potentially Powerful Synthesis as yet Undeveloped and Rife with Contradictions Due to Absent Resolution of Conflicting Presuppositions 129
II. John Rawls 130
1. The "Original Position" 130
2. Rawls and the School of "Public Choice" 134
3. Rawls Contrasted with Aristotle 134
a) Origin of the State 134
b) Human Inequality 135
c) The Theory of Justice 135
d) A Catholic Inspired Synthesis of Rights Theory and Natural Justice 136
D. Libertarians 137
I. Introduction: Commonalities between Different Anarchisms 137
II. Points of Divergence among Anarchisms 138
III. Anarcho-Capitalists (Libertarians) 139
1. Nozick 140
a) The Political Theory of Anarcho-capitalism 140
b) Nozick’s Ultra Minimal State 142
2. David Friedman – the Economic Theory of Anarcho Capitalism (Libertarianism) 144
3. Conclusions 146
a) Anarcho-capitalism is Unrealistic 146
b) No Dissolution of Private Property 147
c) Privatization of State Functions 147
d) Negativism 147
E. Criticisms of the Social Contract 149
I. Criticisms of the Social Contract from within its own Terms 149
1. The State of Nature is an Impossibility 149
2. The Social Contract is but a Fiction 149
II. Criticisms of the Social Contract from Outside its own Terms 150
1. The Necessity of Government 150
2. The Impossibility of an End of History 151
F. Conclusion: Explaining the Success of the Theory of Social Contract Theory 151
Chapter 6: Late Modernity: Legal Realism 155
A. Introduction 155
B. The Judicial "Revolution" 155
I. The Great Depression: The Judicial Revolution 157
II. Legal Realism "We are all Legal Realists now. Or are we?" 159
III. The Realist Rejection of "Formalism’ 162
C. Post War: Co-opting Radicalism to Serve Global Hegemony 168
I. Law and Economics 170
II. Legal Process Interest Balancing 172
D. Conclusion 179
Chapter 7: Beyond Legal Realism (1950-1980) 181
A. Introduction: The Failure of the Left 181
B. Epistemological Basis of Realist Legal Method 185
I. Dualism (Plato) 189
II. Relativism 192
1. Nietzsche 192
2. Gödel, Quine, Saussure 199
3. Constructivism: Popper 201
4. Intersubjectivism 203
C. Axiological Basis of Realist Legal Method – Hume and Kelsen 204
D. Legal Method 212
I. Legal Realism v. Formalism 214
II. Realism Set the Stage for Law and Economics 219
III. Critique of Realist Legal Method 220
E. Conclusion: Beyond Legal Realism 223
Chapter 8: Law and Economics (1980-?) 225
A. Introduction 225
B. The Origin of Contemporary LE in Classical Economists 227
I. Adam Smith 227
II. David Ricardo 228
C. Law and Economics: Richard Posner 228
D. The Chicago School (Supply Side Theory): Milton Friedman 231
I. Supply Determines Demand 232
II. The General Theory as a Special Theory 232
III. Primacy of the Market 232
1. The Role of Prices 232
2. Monetary Policy 233
a) Money as a Signalling System 234
b) Money as an Instrument of Economic Management 234
c) Monetary Policy must Prevent Inflation (and Deflation) 235
d) Opposition to State Intervention 236
E. The Vienna School 236
I. Mises and Rothbard 238
II. Hayek 241
1. Hayek on Inflation 241
2. Hayek on Epistemology 241
3. Hayek’s Prescriptions 246
F. The School of Public Choice: James Buchanan 247
I. The Analysis of "Political Markets" 248
1. Political Failure 251
2. Bureaucracy 252
3. Public Bads 252
4. The Political Market 253
II. Consequences of the Analysis 253
1. Balanced Budget 253
2. Privatization of Legal Functions 254
III. Critiques of the School of Public Choice 255
G. Conclusions 256
I. Valid Applications of Economic Methods in Law – "Weak" Law and Economics 256
1. Balancing Tests 256
2. Cost-benefit Analysis 257
II. Invalid Claims: "Strong" Law and Economics 258
1. Homo Economicus – An Unrealistic Model of Human Behaviour in the Real World 259
2. Presumptions about Markets – And Failure to Account for Market Failure 260
3. Information Theory 261
III. Why Law and Economics? 262
IV. A Reductio to Refute Strong Law and Economics 262
Chapter 9: Kelsen 264
A. Normative Inference 265
I. Rejection of Normative Inference 265
II. The Normative Syllogism 274
III. Demonstration of Legal Inferencing 277
B. Critique 278
I. Terminology 278
1. Polysemy 278
2. Ambiguity 279
3. Confusion 280
4. Neutrality? 281
II. Useless Complexity 282
1. Terminological Multiplication 282
2. Multiplication of Syllogisms 282
3. Imputation: A Useless Distinction 283
4. A Special Juridical Logic? 283
5. The Posthumous Character of the ATN 283
III. Methodological Aporia 284
IV. Problem of Postulates 284
1. Separation of Law and Morality 284
2. The Basic Norm 284
V. Tautology of the Basic Norm 285
VI. Rationalisation 285
VII. From Subjective to Objective Signification 286
C. Conclusion 286
Chapter 10: After Modernity? – Critical Legal Studies 287
A. The Origins of Critical Legal Studies: Legal Realism 287
B. Marxist Legal Theory 290
I. Antinomianism 290
II. Historical (Dialectical) Materialism 290
III. Socialist Legalism 291
IV. Criminal Theory 291
C. Critical Legal Studies 291
D. Post Modernism 293
Chapter 11: Contemporary Legal Theory: Scientificity 296
A. Introduction 296
B. Scientificity of Law – How the Study of Law is Scientific? 298
I. Past Efforts at Universalisation in Human Sciences 298
II. Borrowing Methods, Observations, and Analogies from Natural Sciences 299
III. Human Sciences are not Nomothetical 302
IV. Human Sciences are Dialectical 303
1. Union of Opposites 305
2. Struggle of Opposites 305
3. Each Opposite Holds the Seeds of its Opposite 306
4. Transformation of Opposites into each other Through Struggle 306
5. Dynamic Change 308
6. A Long Series of Quantitative Changes Leads to a Sudden Qualitative Change 308
7. The Importance of Dialectics for Science 308
V. Object of Study 310
VI. Analytical Method: False Dichotomies 311
VII. Synthetic Method: Discover Latent Hidden Similarities in Apparently Different Institutions by Abstraction and Comparison 312
VIII. Teleology of Legal Science 313
1. Structuralist Approach 313
2. Goal of Science – the Good Life (Aristotle, Maslow) 313
IX. Hume, Weber and Kelsen 314
C. Language, Logic, and Law 317
I. Logic 317
1. The Paradox of Crows The Problem of Causality 318
2. The Correspondence Theory of Truth 322
3. Truth Functionality (Truth, Falsehood and Indeterminacy) 323
4. Logical Implication: Ternary Logic 325
5. Normative Inferencing 330
II. Language 334
1. Language – The Arbitrary Character of Signs 334
2. Linguistic Determinacy and Law 335
3. Interpretation and Argumentation 337
D. A Critical Response to Duncan Kennedy’s Theory of Argumentation 338
I. The Death of Reason Narrative 338
II. Critique of the Death of Reason Critique 347
III. Frames of Reference 349
1. Base/Superstructure 349
2. Structuralism 350
3. Post-structuralism 352
4. Post Modernism (PoMo) 352
IV. Kennedy’s Theory of U.S. Law 353
1. Before CLT - The "Classical Period" (Natural Law) (Individualism – Begriffsjurisprudenz) 354
2. Classical Legal Thought (CLT) (Positivism - Interessenjurisprudenz) 355
3. The Social (Legal Realism/CLS) (Collectivism) 363
4. Contemporary Legal Thought (Neo-formalism) 366
5. Mediation 374
6. Law as Logical Equations 375
V. "Outs" and Contestable Points 376
E. Pedagogy 378
I. Constructivism 378
II. Research Networks 380
III. Peer Review 381
F. Conclusion 381
Chapter 12: Legal Indeterminacy and Autonomy of Law 382
A. Introduction 382
B. Truth 385
I. Kurt Gödel, Indeterminacy and Autonomy 385
II. Theories of Truth 387
1. The Correspondence Theory of Truth 387
2. The Consensus Theory of Truth 388
3. The Coherence Theory of Truth 388
4. The Pragmatic Theory of Truth 390
5. Truth Statements are Reflections of the Material World 391
C. Logic 393
I. Practical versus Theoretical Logic 393
1. Theoretical Rationality 393
2. Practical Reasoning 393
II. (Qua-)Ternary Logic 394
1. Interpretations (Values) of Statements 394
2. Truth Functors 396
3. Multivariate Logic Invalidates Reductio Proofs 399
III. Puzzles in Law 400
1. Antinomies in Law 400
a) Conflicts of Law 401
b) Lacunae 401
2. Paradox 402
a) Paradoxes of Material Implication Reveal the Inadequacy of Binary Logic 403
b) Paradox in Laws 404
c) Circling the Square: Statements about Pegasus 404
D. Conclusion: Law and Morality 406
Chapter 13: Rights Discourse 407
A. Introduction 407
B. Rights and Laws 408
C. Rights Discourse 409
I. Dworkin 409
II. Rawls 413
III. Hohfeld 414
D. Types of Rights 416
I. Perfect (Vested) Rights 417
II. Imperfect Rights 418
1. Rights at Will: Permissions, Privileges and Licenses 418
Example: Ferae Naturae 418
2. Potential Rights: Mere Expectancies 419
Example: Ferae Naturae 419
3. Hortatory Rights: Programmatic Goals 419
Example: The Right to Food, "Third Generation Rights’ 420
III. Other Distinctions among Rights 421
E. Inferring Rights 422
F. Conclusion 425
Chapter 14: The Right to Food 427
A. On Radical Legal Critique 427
B. Classical Law: More Geometrico 429
C. Taking Empire Seriously: Radicalized Rights as a Key to Third World Well Being 433
I. A Typology of Rights 435
II. Positive Policies, Natural Rights 438
III. The Right to Food (Basic Alimentary Rights) 440
D. Conclusion 441
Global Conclusions 443
Bibliography 444
Table of Cases 468
Index 469