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What Is “Law,” if “the Law” Is not Something that “Is”? A Modest Contribution to a Major Question


  • Dan Jerker B. Svantesson

    1. Bond University, Faculty of Law, Queensland, Australia
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    • I thank Dr Radim Polčák, Professor William Van Caenegem, Terrance Sak and Professor Michael Stokes for their valuable comments on an earlier draft. In addition, my sincerest gratitude goes to the anonymous reviewers, particularly the one who offered no less than four pages of insightful comments on an earlier draft.


After proposing an alternative definition of what “law” (jurisprudential concept) is, this article demonstrates the impossibility of identifying “the law” (what law-makers announce, relative to a particular jurisdiction) as something that is in a particular way. Rather, the law is a more or less abstract range of options. Drawing upon this conclusion, the article calls for a reassessment of how we view the role of law-makers. We need to remove the mystery that surrounds the law so as to provide for greater transparency. This transparency can be gained by requiring law-makers to declare their inescapable biases where they influence their lawmaking.