Hans Kelsen is considered by many to be the foremost legal thinkers of the 20th century. He made important contributions to many areas, but especially to legal theory and international law. Over a number of decades, he developed an important legal theory which found its first complete exposition in "Reine Rechtslehre" (1934) and its fullest expression in the second edition of Reine Rechtslehre in 1960. During the last decade of his life he was working on what he called a general theory of norms. When he died in 1973, he left a lengthy manuscript, which was published in 1979 as "Allgemeine Theorie der Normen". This book is the translation - "General Theory of Norms" . It is thus the last work of one of the most important legal theorists this century. In it, Kelsen develops his "pure theory of law" into a "general theory of norms", and, in so doing, he provides a new basis for some of the positions he espoused earlier on, but also revises some of his earlier positions. The most important new topic is that of the applicability of logic to norms: Kelsen develops an original and extreme position.
In the book, Kelsen also examines the views of over 200 philosophers and legal theorists on law, morality and logic, ranging from Plato and Aristotle, to contemporary thinkers.
Kelsen is to be admired for the ruthless honesty and tenaciousness of his exploration of the implications of his basic ideas. Equally impressive is Michael Hartney's superb translation, with excellent apparatus and introduction. This work is essential reading for anyone concerned in legal or politico-legal theory. * Political Studies * 'thanks to the Herculean efforts of Michael Hartney, we have a fine English translation, General Theory of Norms'
Stanley L. Paulson, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2 (1992) 'The translation is excellent. There is also a stimulating and highly informative introduction, and a useful index.'
Deryck Beyleveld, The Modern Law Review, Vol. 56 `In the Paulson translation ... we have our first opportunity to read in English what might be regarded as the classical version of Kelsen's Pure Theory of Law ... backed by the most faultless scholarship ... contains an invaluable introduction Stanley Paulson's introduction is a masterpiece of elegance and lucidity; while making a very substantial and important critical point against Kelsen, the essay is so clear that it could be read with
profit by a complete novice ... Michael Hartney's introduction to General Theory of Norms is also an important contribution to jurisprudential scholarship in its own right. Hartney offers the reader indispensable assistance in the formidable task of studying this huge, untidy, and sometimes confused book ... With these two
formidable translation, English-speaking jurists are offered not only a feast of Kelsenism, but an intellectual challenge and a daunting personal example.'
Cambridge Law Journal `thanks to the Herculean efforts of Michael Hartney, we have a fine English translation, General Theory of Norms ... it is a work of enormous interest ... Two indexes, including an unusually rich and detailed subject index, complete the work. It is, in every respect, a fine edition'
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 'Thanks to a lucid and generally readable translation from the German by Michael Hartney, it may well go some way to restoring Kelsen's reputation as a communicator of ideas ... Legal historians will delight in the wealth of information presented in the appendix to this volume ... I recommend this book to as wide a readership as possible.'
Gary P. Bignall, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 1, Spring 1992 'Hartney deserves the highest praise for rendering into understandable English - virtually deciphering the German text - the intricate, abstract ideas of one of the more remarkable legal theorists of the 20th century. Required reading for all students of legal philosophy.'
R.J. Steamer, emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Boston, Choice, Feb '92 `a fascinating glimpse into Kelsen's intellectual history and formation'
Zenon Bankowski, Times Higher Education Supplement `at last Hartney has given us a superb translation of it into English ... His analysis has much else of interest, and one is alwasy impressed by the rigour of his thought. He has here, as I said, been extremely well served by his translator. Several past efforts at translating Kelsen have been sad, broken-backed affairs. Not Hartney's. He is to be congratulated on the brilliant accomplishment of an excruciatingly difficult task.'
Times Literary Supplement