The historicist school emphasizes the historical dimension of law. The historicist school recognizes legal practice as the main source of applicable law. Custom law provides a standard of legal validity that imposes customary limits on the coercive powers of the political leader. Major historians include Sir Edward Coke, John Selden, Sir Matthew Hale and Sir William Blackstone. Hart`s 1957 lecture “Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morality” focuses on three doctrines affirmed by Bentham and Austin. The first, which Hart argues, emphasizes “the importance of the distinctive vocabulary of law.” The second doctrine Hart maintains is the separation of law and morality. Hart considers the law “as is” to be distinct from the law “as it should be.” This distinction rejects moral norms as a criterion of legal validity. (Hart, 1958, pp. 594-601). Aristotle ensured legal justice by restricting the will of the political leader by autonomous laws. Politics teaches that unbridled power breeds tyranny, even in democracies. Aristotle wonders whether societies function better under “human domination” or the “rule of law.” He concludes that laws, if they are good, should be a top priority. Political leaders should simply supplement the law by acting as guardians and ministers.
They should only regulate matters on which laws cannot speak precisely, because it is difficult to have a general principle that covers all the details. (Aristotle, Politics, 1282b). Legal positivism is also unconvincing and insists on a narrow philosophical method for formulating its standard of legal validity. Hart emphasizes “a purely analytical study of legal concepts, a study of the meaning of the distinctive vocabulary of law.” (Hart, 1958, p. 601). He describes any law as consisting of only two kinds of rules. Hart`s simplistic legal model is inadequate for three reasons. The Corpus Juris Civilis (Corpus of Civil Law) codified Roman law according to the decree of Justinian I. The four works of Corpus were completed in 535 AD and became the sole legal authorities of the empire. The Institutes was a text from the law school. The codex contained statutes from 76 AD. The compendium included comments by eminent jurists, and new laws were amended as new laws became necessary.
Like Aristotle, Cicero demanded that magistrates be subject to the power of others. Consecutive terms are prohibited and ten years must elapse before the magistrate is eligible for the same office. Any judge who leaves office must account to the censors for his official actions. Misconduct will be prosecuted. No judge may give or receive gifts during the initiation or exercise of his functions or after the expiry of his mandate. (Cicero, De Legibus, 3.9-3.11). The second way Aristotle ensures natural justice is by promoting virtue. Aristotle believed that human happiness depended more on virtue than on freedom. The government is therefore responsible for creating a virtuous state, and this is best achieved by law.
Although virtue involves more than mere conformity to the law, virtue will only develop and flourish in a state that supports the legal application of virtue. The state, through its laws, must provide moral education to make its citizens just and good. Otherwise, the political system of the state will be undermined and its citizens harmed. (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1179b; Policy, 1280b, 1310a, 1337a). Socrates answers that the soul is more precious than the body. Good deeds benefit our souls, but evil deeds mutilate them. The most important thing is not to live, but to live well. It means living honorably. Socrates uses three principles to decide whether to escape. First, circumstances never justify wrongdoing. Second, don`t hurt others, even if they hurt you.
Third, one must “honour one`s agreements, provided they are correct”. (Plato, Krito, 47th-49th). Standards of legal validity are historically cyclical, and the cycle has continued in the United States throughout the 21st century. U.S. law originally adopted Blackstone`s two standards of validity based on moral principles and legal customs.