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The Wittgenstein of law

A "tell-all" biography of the liberal reformer and legal theorist HLA Hart sheds light on the flowering of Oxford philosophy from the 1930s to the 1970s

By Ben Rogers   March 2005

A life of HLA Hart by Nicola Lacey (Oxford University Press, £25)

I only saw the philosopher of law HLA Hart once. It must have been in 1990 or 1991, in the gardens of University College Oxford, a year or two before his death. Moving forward slowly, on swollen legs and walking sticks, stooped and scruffy, his image stayed with me. I realised, when I embarked on this book, that it had become associated in my mind with Jeremy Bentham’s stuffed remains on display at UCL. This might seem rather grotesque, but it is not unfitting. There are many ways…

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