Hart-Fuller Debate

Morality and its influence on law has been a matter of major debate over the years. The idea of whether a judicial decision or a legislation should base its foundations on moral reasoning has seen both arguments in favour and against it. The main basis to the arguments here, stems from the question, what exactly is morality as the idea of morality itself is subjective to each person. What may seem moral to me, needn’t be so for another one, and it is also important to have a healthy deliberation on the same. In legal philosophy this debate has existed for time immemorial and the idea of morality and its influence on law has been a major difference between the natural school and positivist school of legal thought.

The Hart-Fuller debate is a debate between the positivist school and the natural school of jurisprudence. H L A Hart is a follower of the positivist school, and believed that law and morality are not interdependent. Hart acknowledges that law is influenced by morality and that law has a close relationship with morality, but according to Hart these subjects are not interdependent.  Fuller, on the other hand was a follower of the natural school of jurisprudence. He was an advocate for the idea that law and morality are interlinked and dependent on each other.

Hart believed in theories of what are and what ought to be, Fuller debated that these ideas of what are and what ought to be as promulgated by Hart, was nothing but morality. Therefore, according to Fuller, Hart was accepting that morality and law are interdependent subjects. Fuller also drew a distinction between external and internal morality. According to Fuller, the justice that Hart spoke about in terms of administration of law was nothing but internal morality.

This debate can be better explained in terms of a case, that of a woman in Nazi Germany who denounced her husband to the authorities as he used to insult Hitler in their house. According to the laws of that time, insulting Hitler even within private spaces was considered a crime and the woman followed the law. The husband was persecuted and punished. After the war, this was one of the cases that was brought before the Court that was set up to deal with the crimes that happened in Nazi Germany. The Court held the wife guilty for turning over her husband.

According to Hart, the decision given by the Court was wrong. The actions of the wife were in par with the laws of that tie, she should not be persecuted for following the law. However, Fuller debated that the Court’s decision was right as it was morally incorrect of the wife to turn over husband. When one reads law with morality, what the wife did was inherently wrong and should be punished for the same. Hart, felt for the Court’s decision to be correct, they should enforce a law with retrospective effect that would hold the woman wrong for her actions, otherwise the decision taken by the Court was wrong. This idea of Hart, was based on internal morality according to Fuller. This is the main gist of the Hart- Fuller debate, the debate of reading law with morality.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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