Stanley L. Paulson
scope of the ﬁssure. Is it limited to a single issue, Kelsen’s replacing his earlier
endorsement with a new, sceptical stance on the role of logic in the law? Or
does it reach in the end to well-nigh everything in the Pure Theory of Law,
counting, then, as a metamorphosis? With few exceptions, writers who have
addressed this period, the so-called Sp¨
atlehre, have conﬁned their discussion
to Kelsen’s shift on the applicability of logic to the law3without offering a
clear picture of the scope of the shift. A second central question, raised by
Neil Duxbury,4goes further. Why a sharp break at all? And, I might add,
why 1960? Here, too, there is nothing remotely like a clear picture. In short,
two central questions – one addressing the scope of the break in Kelsen’s
thinking and the other addressing an explanation for it, including its timing –
remain outstanding, and they encapsulate the issues that I take up in the present
On the ﬁrst question, addressing the scope of Kelsen’s shift, I argue that
the sharp break in his thinking in the late period does indeed count as a
metamorphosis. In 1960 and the years following, Kelsen not only dismisses
the notion that logic is applicable to the law, he also abandons, expressis verbis,
the Kantian-inspired basic norm, a key doctrine belonging to the earlier,
Kantian ediﬁce of the Pure Theory of Law. The ‘Kantian ediﬁce’, my label
for the conceptual apparatus that Kelsen draws from the Kant of the Critique of
Pure Reason,5reﬂects the formative inﬂuence of Kant’s philosophy on Kelsen’s
during the long, classical period, from circa 1920 to 1960.6Given Kant’s
role in Kelsen’s legal philosophy, it comes as no sur prise to learn that Adolf
Julius Merkl (1890-1970), the most gifted of Kelsen’s colleagues in the Vienna
School of Legal Theory with a profound knowledge of Kelsen’s work, points
the reprinting, in WS, of the German orig inal. Finally, see H. Kelsen, General Theory of Norms
(ﬁrst publ 1979) trans M. Hartney (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) (Kelsen, GTN).
3 The most notable exception is Eugenio Bulygin, see E. Bulygin, Essays in Legal Philosophy C.
Bernal et al (eds) (Oxford: OUP, 2015) chs 3, 8, 14, 20, and 22.
4 N. Duxbury, ‘Kelsen’s Endgame’ (2008) 67 Cambridge Law Journal 51, 54.
5 Kelsen’sbrusque dismissal of Kant’s practical philosophy stands alongside his hearty endorsement
of the Kant of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant, ﬁrst Critique): ‘[I]t must be granted that Kantian
ethics and legal philosophy follow in the path of metaphysics and natural law theory. The Pure
Theory of Law draws its support not from these views but solely from the Kantian theory of
knowledge.’ H. Kelsen, ‘Allgemeine Rechtslehre im Lichte materialistischer Geschichtsauffas-
sung’ (1931) 66 Archiv f¨
ur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik 449, 463 n 14, repr in H. Kelsen,
Demokratie und Sozialismus N. Leser (ed) (Vienna: Volksbuchhandlung, 1967) 69, 82 n 14.
6 Eugenio Bulygin, the most astute of recent commentators on Kelsen’s theory, distinguishes –
entirely correctly in my view – the ‘Kantian Kelsen’ of the classical period from the empiricist
Kelsen of the late period, see Bulygin, Essays in Legal Philosophy n 3 above, ch 14. The classical
period of Kelsen’s development stretches from circa 1920 to the second edition of the Pure
Theory of Law (1960). This long period represents Kelsen’seffort to provide philosophical support
for his theory, including elements that he ﬁrst introduced in Hauptprobleme der Staatsrechtslehre
ubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1911) (Kelsen, HP) repr in M. Jestaedt (ed), Hans Kelsen Werke
ubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007 ff) (more than 30 volumes projected) (HKW with vol no and
date) vol 2 (2008). On the periodisation, see for example, S. L. Paulson, ‘Four Phases in Hans
Kelsen’s Legal Theory? Reﬂections on a Periodization’ (1998) 18 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
153. An outspoken sceptic on the value of such a periodisation, with hard-hitting arguments, is
P. Chiassoni, ‘Wiener Realism’ in L. Duarte d’Almeida et al (eds), Kelsen Revisited. New Essays on
the Pure Theory of Law (Oxford: Hart, 2013) 131.
C2017 The Author.The Moder n LawReview C2017 The Modern Law Review Limited.
(2017) 80(5) MLR 860–894 861