Gaetano Carlizzi

Continuity or Discontinuity in Gustav Radbruch’s Legal Philosophy? The Thesis of the “hermeneutischer Naturrechtspositivismusµ

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Gustav Radbruch has been the greatest German legal philosopher of the XX century. His system of thought has developed between the first and the second postwar. Its intentionally antinomic mark has provoked many questions among his scholars. The most important one may be named the “question of continuity or discontinuityµ and can be formulated as follows: has Radbruch’s philosophy of law remained substantially unchanged after the end of the Second world war and the fall of Nazism? In this paper I address the question by analyzing and comparing the main work of the first phase of his research, the Philosophy of law of 1932, and the most important works of the second phase. On this basis I argue that Radbruch’s philosophy of law was neither a pure legal positivism nor a pure natural law theory, but a synthesis of these fundamental traditions, which in German terms I propose to name “hermeneutischer Naturrechtspositivismusµ.


  • Natural and Positive Law
  • Statutory Lawlessness and Supra-statutory Law
  • Is-ought Problem
  • Relativism
  • Legal Hermeneutics


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