Keywords: Scandinavian Legal Realism, Rights, Theory of Fundamental Rights, Axel Hägerström, Non-cognitivism.
Scandinavian Legal Realism is frequently accused of having developed a theory of fundamental rights at the antipodes of the best legacy in the liberal tradition, i.e. human rights. The aim of this essay is to shed light on the conception of rights in the father of Scandinavian realism, Axel Hägerström. Two aspects are in focus: first, the theory challenges some highly considered theories; second, at least at first glance it appears that Hägerström is suggesting a theory of rights at odds with his own meta-ethical conception, namely non-cognitivism. Two issues are thus discussed: How can Hägerström contemporarily uphold non-cognitivism in morals and a version of error-theory in law? Are we dealing with an unnoticed contradiction or a limit of the scope of non-cognitivism?