Gregorio Robles-Morchón

The Influence of Ernst R. Bierling on the Vienna Law School

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Far from a “psychologicalµ interpretation of the work of Bierling in this article I defend the thesis that Bierling is a predecessor of the Pure Theory of Law. This can be demonstrated through the main thoughts of Bierling: First, the central concept of the General Theory of Law is the concept of legal norm understood as an act of will (wollen) that expresses a duty (an “ought toµ: sollen). Second, legal norms have a hierarchical structure (Stufenbau) in the legal order. Third, the hierarchical structure of legal norms presupposes a basic norm (Grundnorm) as the last foundation of their validity (Geltung). Fourth, the concept of acknowledgment (Anerkennung) is a psycosocial concept that is analogue to the Kelsenian concept of efficacy (Wirksamkeit). Legal concepts, that is the concepts produced by Legal Science, are formal concepts (legal scientific formalism).


  • Bierling
  • Kelsen
  • Legal Norm
  • Legal Order
  • Hierarchical Structure
  • Basic Norm (Grundnorm)
  • Acknowledgment (Anerkennung)
  • Efficacy
  • Normativism
  • Voluntarism
  • Formalism


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