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My Understanding of the Legal Positivism School of Thought

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For the entirety of my life, I have grown up under the care of a mother and father with military backgrounds. My father joined the military immediately after completing his high school education, whereas my mother had a brief stint working at one of the military’s canteens where she eventually met my father. It is through this spectacular work of fate that I eventually came into existence.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of people working in the military is their strict adherence to rules, procedures, and codes of conduct. It is no wonder that its many workers are commonly referred to as the ‘disciplined forces’. Military discipline has in the past been defined as “that mental attitude and state of training which renders obedience instinctive under all conditions. It is founded upon respect for, and loyalty to properly constituted authority.” I therefore attribute who I am today as a person, and the ideals I believe in, to the way my parents raised me; taking into account the strict way of life they had grown accustomed to in the course of their work that was eventually passed on to me. When I was younger, whatever my parents would say was final; there was rarely ever any room for discussion or opposition. I took what they said as being the law. As I grew older, however, I of course learnt to speak up for myself and what I believed in, but still maintaining the same level of respect for their beliefs and ideas. It is undoubtable that some of their own practices have stuck with me until this very day. Things such as tremendous respect for authority, being a stickler for the rules, as well as carrying myself with high levels of decorum and dignity are some of the practices that have stuck with me and that I would not compromise for anything or anyone. From the brief history of my upbringing, it is no wonder why I credit my upbringing in a home where rules were strictly followed and authority was unquestionable, whether right or wrong, for my subscription to the legal positivism school of thought. To me, law is as a result of an unquestionable authority. Law is that which is final, no matter whether you think it is right or wrong.

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In this essay, I will give my understanding of the legal positivism school of thought, and attempt to support it with reference to the works of renowned scholars such as John Austin, H.L.A Hart and Jeremy Bentham. I will further explain my reasons as to why I subscribe to the legal positivism school of thought, as well as give my own assessment of what I think of it. I will further attempt to distinguish it from the other schools of thought; and consequently point out where I feel it is lacking or where I feel it is advantageous over the other schools of thought. I will then conclude by stating whether I feel there could be any changes made to the school of thought, and suggest recommendations.

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