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Legal obligation is both Benthams and Harts central concern Yet Dworkin does not really make an account on this topic but rather criticising positivist theses Thus I will first make a brief summary of Benthams and Harts account of legal obligation before I make a comparison of all the three jurists theories Jeremy Benthams Legal Obligation For Bentham obligation is the opposite of rights Obligations and rights are the two classes of things that the legislator distributes among the members of the community A right cannot be created in favour of anyone without imposing a corresponding obligation on another To commit an offence is on the one hand to violate an obligation---on the other hand a right Bentham regarded rights as a benefit while obligations as in themselves an evil because obligation placed constraints on peoples personal liberty As a utilitarian Bentham believed that the function of law is the give the greatest happiness to the people in the community Since rights and obligations are opposite when a right is conferred at the same time an obligations is imposed Thus when a legislator legislates he gives benefit and at the same time of imposing evil He has to try his best to achieve what Bentham called the greatest happiness In other words he has to find a balance between benefits and evil Bentham believed that legal obligation was nothing more than an awareness of the probability that punishment would be imposed in accordance with a legal scheme Legal obligation arisen when a sovereign gives commands to its subject backed by rewards or punishments Hart summarizes Benthams idea of command as an expression by one person of the dsire that another person should do or abstain from some action accompanied by a threat of punishment which is likely to follow disobedience For Bentham the motives of the subject obeying the law are not just punishments They can be either alluring in the case of rewards
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