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John Austin

Legal Philosopher

Nadia Peles

on 16 September 2012

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Transcript of John Austin

Legal Philosopher John Austin John Austin was born on March 3, 1790 in Creeting Mill, Suffolk
Born to a merchant family
Served a brief time in the military
Worked in law from 1818 to 1825, taking on only a few cases
Became a Professor of jurisprudence at the University of London
In order to strengthen academic credentials, he studied Roman Law and German Civil Law
Resigned from teaching in 1832 due to lack of attendance at his lectures Biography In the same year, he published "The Province of Jurisprudence Determined"
In 1834 he tried to resume his lectures, but failed once again
In 1838, Austin worked on a commission investigating complaints for the Maltese government
10 years later, he married Sarah Taylor, moved back to England and lived with her until he died on December 1st, 1859 in Weybridge, Surrey
in 1863, Sarah Taylor published "The Province of Jurisprudence Determined" and he has lived on since then John Austin lived through the 19th century
During Austin’s era, people had strong religious beliefs and events such as the industrial revolution and slave abolishment
He also took part in serving in the british army and studied law mediocrely
Austin's biggest influence were English philosophers John Stuart Mills and Jeremy Bentham, whom he was also good friends with
He was inspired by their theory of utilitarianism(which is the doctrine that actions are right if they are beneficial to the majority)
this is what inspired him to develop the theory of legal positivism
Bentham's view on law and morality greatly influenced him to come up with this theory because he argued and believed that not obeying laws would result in punishment. The Historical Period in Which he Lived Positive law: the body of legal theory which views law as the product of human thought and will; generally man made laws
Utilitarianism: the greatest good for the greatest number of people
Austin is a positive law theorist because he believes in utilitarianism, which is that people would follow the law when it would benefit the greatest number of people
He believed that rules were general commands made by those with jobs of authority but would only work when it benefited those under it
With positive laws being man made laws, it made a difference in what was enforced because it was about the general public and keeping them safe as well as happy
He followed closely to Jeremy Bentham, and that is what his theory is mostly based on Legal Positivism Austin’s approach was what could be said generally but still with the interest about law
With keeping the beliefs of utilitarianism, he took the ability to see ethics as a science in what he accepted utility the basis of morality.
Austin dealt with politics and studies of the law as the domain of ethics that were understood in utilitarian terms
He believed that it was the greatest good for the greatest number of people
Instead of making specified laws, he thought that it would work better to make general laws that would benefit more people
He knew that if more people saw that the law benefited them, more people would follow it
“Without political stability there is no state, and without a state there is no state law.”
Austin believed that laws are commands of a ruler
He made the statement that the concept of positive law by revealing the general opinion of his definition
also by recognizing law from other concepts that are similar Austin is arguably the first writer to approach the theory of law analytically
Many of his written work and lectures are still being spoken about
The thought of "the greatest good for the greatest number of people" still exists because the law is general and tries to benefit as many people as it can
Since today's law is still trying to benefit the most people and not bend the law for certain reasons, Austin's theory is still in play because he just wanted a set list of rules down that would benefit the most people and not change for any specific people Impact of his theory on Today's Society Austin's theory is composed of three things: Analytical Jurisprudence, legal positivism, and the Command theory of law and the theory of legal sovereignty
Analytical Jurisprudence: a method of legal study that concentrates on the logical structure of law, the meaning and uses of its concepts, and the formal terms and the modes of its operation. He analyzed legal concepts in terms of non-legal concepts so that the entire law could be understood in non-legal terms
Legal Positivism: States that laws are derived from written rules, regulations which have been enacted, adopted and recognized by a governmental or political institution, including administrative, executive, legislative, and judicial bodies. It is based on the legal philosophy that what is the intent of the enacting body Command theory of law and the theory of legal sovereignty:This aspect of Austin's theory is based on the commandment of the sovereign. He realized that there should be fixed written commandments, which should be obeyed by all people. These commandments should be backed with sanctions. Austin also realized the need about the uniformity of law. By uniformity means, that the law should be equal for all people of the state References References
AUSTIN JOHN. (n.d.). Powszechna Encyklopedia Filozofii. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from


John Austin legal definition of John Austin. John Austin synonyms by the Free Online Law Dictionary.. (n.d.). Legal Dictionary.

Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/John+Austin

Kaura, S. (n.d.). John Austin's Theory of Law. Surabhi Kaura on HubPages. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from


Summary of John Austin's Legal Positivism. (n.d.). Summary of John's Austin's Legal Positivism. Retrieved September 12, 2012,

from www2.law.columbia.edu/faculty_franke/CLT/Summary%20of%20John%20Austins%20Legal%20Positivism.pdf

The justifiable jurisprudence of John Austin: public lecture on legal theory — University of Leicester. (n.d.). University of Leicester.

Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://www2.le.ac.uk/news/blog/2011-archive/march/the-justifiable-jurisprudence-of-


sovereign, t. (n.d.). John Austin (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved September

12, 2012, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/austin-john/

APA formatting by BibMe.org. Views on Law and Justice
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