Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 217–235

Legal positivism and property rights: a critique of Hayek and Peczenik


DOI: 10.1007/s10602-006-9004-y

Cite this article as:
Berggren, N. Constit Polit Econ (2006) 17: 217. doi:10.1007/s10602-006-9004-y


Scholars such as Friedrich Hayek and Aleksander Peczenik have criticized legal positivism for undermining constitutionalism and the rule of law, an implication of which is weakened private property rights. This conclusion is far from evident. First, I contend that legal positivism is compatible with a strong support for property rights. Second, the causal relationship between legal positivism and the degree to which property rights are applied and protected is analyzed. The main arguments for a negative relationship—that legal positivism centralizes and politicizes legislation and that it makes the legal culture servile in relation to the political sphere—are considered unconvincing.


Legal positivism Property rights Constitutionalism Hayek Hart 

JEL Classifications

K11 O17 P14 P48 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Ratio InstituteStockholmSweden

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