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Article

The Society-of-Angels Argument and the Modern Legal Positivism

Tretyakov S. V.

The Society-of-Angels Argument was put forward by the prominent legal philosopher Joseph Raz in order to substantiate the pre-eminence of the coordinative function of law and to downplay the role of coercion in law. The argument has a considerable impact on the development of the modern legal positivism. It was endorsed by one group of legal positivist and criticized by another. In this paper I analyze and critically assess what I consider to be probably the most sophisticated criticism of the Society-of Angels Argument presented by the prominent legal scholar Kenneth Einer Himma. My conclusion is that the Society-of-Angels Argument remains an important contribution to the philosophy of law and its criticism remains dependent upon the particular image of a legal system which I consider unrealistic and outdated.