The basic focus of this research is on how the theory of modern legal positivism reflects and theorizes about the legitimacy of law. Special emphasis on the positivistic legal discourse is made because of the impact of H. L. A. Hart's great contribution to the modern legal theory. Hart has revolutionaried the legal theory and has completely changed its image within the legal community.
Our special concern is to present the whole of Hart's contribution to the Russian legal community. The trouble is that it is virtually unknown even within the circles of the Russian legal academia, not no mention the wider circles of Russian lawyers. Notwithstanding the fact of the publication in 2007 of the first Russian translation of Hart's Concept of Law, by itself an extraordinary contribution to the reception of Hart's ideas in Russia, to the day the Russian theory by and large remains impervious to the influence of the Hartian legal philosophy.
That's basically why we have to survey the Hartian theory itself before we can in any meaningful way reflect on how it has changed the positivistic understanding of the legitimacy of law problem. First of all, Hart uses a very interesting methodology, a mix of utilitarian tradition with some ideas of the linguistic philosophy of L. Wittgenstein and J. L. Austin, the leading figures of the linguistic turn, also remaining obscure to the Russian legal discourse. Secondly, Hart has convincingly demonstrated that the normative language is indispensable to law. Law is exceedingly normative phenomenon and can not be reduced to factual orders or habits of obedience.
The newly discovered normative dimension of law, described in a peculiar manner of the language philosophy, has completely refigured the whole surface of the positivistic theory of law. Specifically, normativity is about reasons for conduct and reasons imply justification, which in its turn raises the question of legitimacy. But this is the challenge to the utmost creed of the legal positivism: to strictly demarcate the sources of law from its merits.
All this has resulted in several interpretation of the Hartian concept of normativity of law. This is a wide spectrum of viewpoints here. At one end of the spectrum are all sort of interpretations which reduce the concept of normativity in one way or another. Some try to reinterpret Hart somewhat in the fashion of the pre Hartian theory of imperatives. Others elaborate sophisticated conceptualizations through the lens of expressivist semantics. The basic concern is to secure the demarcation of legality from morality and legitimacy. At the other end of spectrum are theories which openly acknowledge the moral character of legal normativity. In the middle are those who try to save the autonomy of legal normativity in a conventionalist manner.