Understanding Positive Law Jurisprudence: The Law “As Is”

Positive law jurisprudence, also known as legal positivism, delves into the nature of law as a set of human-made rules enforced by a sovereign authority. Unlike natural law theory, which posits a universal moral code underlying all legal systems, positive law focuses on the formal characteristics that make a rule a law, regardless of its content or morality.

Key Concepts of Positive law jurisprudence

  • Posited Law. Firstly the term “positive” comes from the Latin “positum,” meaning “laid down” or “posited.” Positive law emphasizes that laws are established by a specific authority, such as a legislature or a court, rather than derived from inherent rights or natural law.
  • Separation of Law and Morality. Secondly positive law jurisprudence distinguishes between law and morality. A law may be unjust or immoral, but it remains law as long as it is properly enacted and enforced by the sovereign authority. This separation allows for a clear understanding of legal obligations, even if those obligations conflict with personal beliefs.
  • Sovereignty and Legitimacy. Thirdly the source of legal authority is crucial in positive law. The theory identifies a sovereign entity, like a state or government, with the power to create and enforce laws. This sovereign’s legitimacy comes from its ability to establish and maintain a legal order.
  • Types of Positive Law. Finally positive law encompasses both statutory law, enacted by legislatures, and case law, established through court decisions. Both types of law are considered positive law as long as they stem from a legitimate sovereign authority.

Benefits of Positive laws school of thought

  • Clarity and Predictability: Positive law provides a clear and predictable framework for legal systems. By focusing on the formal characteristics of law, it ensures that individuals and institutions understand their legal obligations and rights.
  • Stability and Order: Positive law promotes stability and order within a society. By separating law from morality, it allows for legal disputes to be resolved based on established rules, even if those rules are not universally popular.
  • Efficiency and Legitimacy: Positive law fosters efficiency in legal systems. Judges and other legal actors can focus on interpreting and applying established laws rather than debating the morality of each case. This separation can also enhance the legitimacy of the legal system by ensuring that judges are not seen as imposing their own moral views on society.

Criticisms of Positive Law Jurisprudence

  • Moral Blindness: Critics argue that positive law jurisprudence ignores the moral dimension of law. They contend that unjust laws should not be blindly followed and that legal systems have a responsibility to promote justice and fairness.
  • Legitimacy of the Sovereign: The theory’s reliance on the legitimacy of the sovereign raises questions. What if the sovereign itself is unjust or tyrannical? Does its power to enact laws automatically make them legitimate?
  • Social Change and Evolution: Positive law can struggle to adapt to changing social norms and values. The focus on established rules can create rigidity and make it difficult for the legal system to evolve alongside society.


Positive law jurisprudence offers a valuable framework for understanding legal systems. Its emphasis on clarity, predictability, and efficiency has undoubtedly contributed to the development of modern law. However, its limitations, particularly the separation of law and morality, have sparked ongoing debates among legal theorists. By acknowledging both the strengths and weaknesses of positive law jurisprudence, we can strive for a legal system that is both effective and just.

Additional reading

  1. read a blog Is There a Higher Law?: Unpacking the Enduring Allure of Natural Law Jurisprudence.
  2. Read a blog under mhaagj web “Jeremy Bentham and the Foundations of Classical Legal Positivism: Dissecting the Command of the Sovereign” click hear
  3. Legal Realism Jurisprudence: Bridging the Gap Between Law and Social Reality. https://mhaagj.org/legal-realism-jurisprudence/
Positive law jurisprudence

1 thought on “Understanding Positive Law Jurisprudence: The Law “As Is””

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from HasLawBook

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top