The widespread antipathy to Hart's description of international law as a simple or primitive social order, one that lacks a rule of recognition and therefore does not qualify as a legal system, rests on two misunderstandings. First, the absence of a division of labor in identifying, altering, applying, and enforcing law is as much, if not more, central to Hart's understanding of what makes a society primitive as is the absence of any secondary rules at all. Second, it is primarily in terms of the presence of such a division of labor and the implications it has for the ontology of law that Hart understands the idea of a legal system and the ideas of a rule of recognition and legal validity that accompany it. Interpreted in light of these claims, Hart's characterization of international law is quite plausible; moreover, embracing it may well provide both theoretical and moral benefits.

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Lefkowitz, David. “What Makes a Social Order Primitive? In Defense of Hart’s Take on International Law.” Legal theory 23, no. 4 (December 2017): 258–282. 2048/10.1017/S1352325217000258