By Neil MacCormick

Institutions of Law marks the lengthy awaited definitive assertion of Sir Neil MacCormick's special concept of legislation as 'institutional normative order'. It takes account of modern advancements within the sociology of legislations to supply a rigorous research of the position of legislation in our society and indicates how legislation creates the stipulations for social peace and a thriving economic climate. In doing so, Institutions of Law fills the necessity for a twenty-first century creation to felony conception, resembling used to be completed within the final century via H.L.A. Hart's The notion of Law.

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For indeed the practice is an interpretative one, in which each party ‘reads’ the ¹⁰ R Dworkin, Law’s Empire (Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press, 1986) 45–86, especially 46–53. On etymological grounds I prefer the term ‘interpretative’ to Dworkin’s ‘interpretive’, and I use the former throughout the present work, except where the context is that of trying to describe or apply Dworkin’s conception of the ‘interpretive’. ¹¹ This idea of ‘external’ observation of conduct derives from H L A Hart’s Concept of Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2nd edn, 1994) 55–60, extensively discussed in N MacCormick, Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978, revised edn, 1994) 275–292; for further discussion, see ch 4 below.

But the viability of the practice is obviously not dependent on the accuracy of this or any other particular attempt to put in explicit terms an implicit norm of conduct for queuing. Even if you and I had a careful discussion and worked at my formulation and refined it so that we had a rule-statement that seemed exactly right to us two, nothing guarantees that this would seem equally right to a third person, or a fourth, let alone everybody in this queue or that one or in all the lines anyone ever stood in.

That is to say, he or she On Institutional Order 33 cannot do so unless prepared to take some kind of forceful action that goes the length of a breach of the peace, or even theft, or assault, or, in an extreme, murder. Many who might cheerfully enough jump queues draw the line at engaging in such relatively serious wrongdoing, hence they are constrained even by rules they would otherwise set at naught. In this way, institutional facts become hard realities, facts that constrain us, not merely norms that guide our autonomous judgment.

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