Kelsen in the United States: Still Misunderstood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


In American legal philosophy—even if one narrows one’s focus to careful consideration of the sub-category, American analytical legal philosophy—the ideas of Hans Kelsen are generally ignored. And on the rare occasions when Kelsen’s ideas are not ignored, they are almost always discussed quickly, and, more often than not, erroneously. Part I of this paper gives examples of Kelsen’s works being overlooked, sample misreadings by prominent theorists, and considers some standard explanations for this indifference and ignorance. Part II turns to some more subtle (and controversial) questions of correct and incorrect readings, focusing on Kelsen’s Basic Norm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLaw and Philosophy Library
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameLaw and Philosophy Library
ISSN (Print)1572-4395
ISSN (Electronic)2215-0315

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful for the comments and suggestions of participants of the Valparaiso University Law School Conference, Hans Kelsen in America. Portions of the second part of this paper were developed from ideas presented in “Rules and Normativity in Law,” in Problems of Normativity, Rules and Rule Following (Bix 2015).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


  • Basic Norm
  • Legal Philosophy
  • Legal Positivism
  • Legal System
  • Normative System


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