John Austin (legal philosopher)
3 March 1790|
Creeting Mill, Suffolk
|Died||1 December 1859
|Main interests||Legal philosophy|
Austin served with the British Army in Sicily and Malta, but sold his officer's commission to study law. He became a member of the Bar during 1818. He discontinued his law practice soon after, devoted himself to the study of law as a science, and became Professor of Jurisprudence in the University of London (now University College London) 1826-33. Thereafter he served on various Royal Commissions.
Theory of legal positivism
John Austin is best known for his work developing the theory of legal positivism. Among other things he attempted in this to clearly separate moral rules from "positive law."
The three basic points of Austin's theory of law are that:
- the law is command issued by the uncommanded commander—the sovereign;
- such commands are backed by threats of sanctions; and
- a sovereign is one who is habitually obeyed
Austin's view of 'a sovereign' was challenged by Henry Maine in "Early Institutions" where he argues that in some Empires of the Orient there is nothing to correspond with "determinate superior" or sovereign.
- Macdonell, John (1885). "Austin, John (1790-1859)". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 02. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Austin, John (1869). Campbell, Robert, ed. Lectures on Jurisprudence, or, The Philosophy of Positive Law 1 (3rd ed.). London: John Murray. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- Macdonell, John (1885). "Austin, Sarah". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 02. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource
- Rumble, Wilfred E. (1985). The Thought of John Austin: Jurisprudence, Colonial Reform, and the British Constitution London. Dover, NH: Athlone Press. ISBN 0485112922.
- John Austin entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Works written by or about John Austin at Wikisource