San Diego Law Review


Peter Westen

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



John Wesley Hohfeld has lost one audience and gained another in the century since he published his seminal Fundamental Legal Conceptions in 1919. Hohfeld originally conceived of his work as an aide to lawyers and law students. And law faculties initially embraced him enthusiastically. Over time, however, law faculties have lost interest in Hohfeld, and moral philosophers have taken their place, such that it is difficult to read widely nowadays in moral theory regarding war and self defense without coming across supportive references to Hohfeld. Unfortunately moral theorists too often invoke Hohfeld for propositions that he explicitly disavowed. Using Uwe Steinhoff and others as a foil, I discuss several of the most common errors that commentators make about Hohfeld.

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