Volume 18, Issue 1, 2018
On Thought Experiments
Thought Experiments in the Theory of Law
The Imaginary Scenarios in Hart’s The Concept of Law
H. L. A. Hart’s The Concept of Law is an important and infl uential work in the modern philosophy and theory of law. In it, Hart introduced and discussed three imaginary scenarios: the absolute monarchy under the Rex dynasty; the pre-legal society governed by primary rules of obligation; and the worlds in which rules would be different from those in our actual world. Although Hart did not use the expression “thought experiments” in his work, some of his interpreters refer to the imaginary scenarios as thought experiments. However, interpreters do not go into the question of whether the imaginary scenarios in Hart’s work do indeed satisfy a general characterization of thought experiments. In this article, the author fi rst summarizes the three imaginary scenarios in Hart’s work and points to the context within which we encounter each of them. Then, he makes use of a general characterization of thought experiments in the contemporary philosophical literature and briefl y examines the way and the extent to which the imaginary scenarios in Hart’s work can satisfy its requirements.