Russian Law Journal

Advanced search

Power Conferring Legal Rules as Coercive Offers?

Full Text:


This paper deals with the question of if and to what extent power-conferring legal rules can be treated as coercive and whether the concept of coercive offers can help to substantiate the coerciveness of power-conferring in law. In his recent book, “The Force of Law,” Frederick Schauer claims that power-conferring legal rules are coercive.1 There are several ways to interpret this claim. In this piece I would like to explore one route of interpretation of this interesting and controversial claim, i.e., whether one can use a highly controversial concept of “coercive offers” to substantiate this claim. First, the very concept of coercive offers requires clarification. In fact, there are several distinct ways to interpret it and I explore them below. The second point is whether the coercive offers concept is applicable in the context of the power-conferring legal rules. Two influential theoretical models of coercive offers are analyzed and critically evaluated and their ramifications for the coerciveness of the power-conferring legal rules are demonstrated. In my view, the only possible route to substantiate the coerciveness claim from the vantage point of coercive offers concept is through the distributive non-neutrality of law narrative.

About the Author

Sergey Tretyakov
National Research University Higher School of Economics
Russian Federation

Senior Researcher, Institute of Legal Studies

3 Bol’shoy Trekhsvyatitel’skiy pereulok, Moscow, 109028


1. Alexander L.A. Zimmermann on Coercive Wages, 12(2) Philosophy & Public Affairs 160 (1983).

2. Bayles M.D. A Concept of Coercion in Nomos XIV: Coercion 16 (J.R. Pennock & J.W. Chapman (eds.), Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, 1972).

3. Berman M.N. The Normative Functions of Coercion Claims,8(1) Legal Theory 45 (2002).

4. Edmundson W.A. Is Law Coercive?, 1(1) Legal Theory 81 (1995).

5. Frankfurt H.G. The Importance of What We Care About (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

6. Hart H.L.A. The Concept of Law (3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

7. Hill J.L. Moralized Theories of Coercion: Critical Analysis, 74(4) Denver University Law Review 907 (1997).

8. Historisch-kritischer Kommentar zum BGB. Bd. I: Allgemeiner Teil, §§ 1–240 (M. Schmoeckel et al. (eds.), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003).

9. Kelman M. A Guide to Critical Legal Studies (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990).

10. Kennedy D. Distributive and Paternalist Motives in Contract and Tort Law, with Special Reference to Compulsory Terms and Unequal Bargaining Power, 41(4) Maryland Law Review 563 (1982).

11. Kennedy D. The Rise and Fall of the Classical Legal Thought (Washington: Beards Book, 1975).

12. Kreimer S.F. Allocational Sanctions: The Problem of Negative Rights in a Positive State, 132 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1293 (1984).

13. Kronman A.T. Contract Law and Distributive Justice, 89(1) Yale Law Journal 472 (1979–1980).

14. Lamond G. The Coerciveness of Law, 20(1) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 39 (2000).

15. Lyons D. Welcome Threats and Coercive Offers, 50(194) Philosophy 425 (1975).

16. Murphy J.G. Consent, Coercion, and Hard Choices,67(1)Virginia Law Review 79 (1981).

17. Nozick R. Coercion in Philosophy, Science, and Method. Essays in Honor of Ernest Nagel 440 (S. Morgenbesser et al. (eds.), New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1969).

18. Schauer F. The Force of Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). Searle J.R. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969).

19. Yankah E.N. The Force of Law: The Role of Coercion in Legal Norms, 42(5) University of Richmond Law Review 1195 (2007–2008).

20. Zimmerman D. Coercive Wage Offers, 10(2) Philosophy & Public Affairs 121 (1981).

21. Zimmerman D. More on Coercive Wage Offers: AReply to Alexander,12(2) Philosophy & Public Affairs 165 (1983).


For citation:

Tretyakov S. Power Conferring Legal Rules as Coercive Offers? Russian Law Journal. 2018;6(1):4-27.

Views: 1200

ISSN 2309-8678 (Print)
ISSN 2312-3605 (Online)