Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 July 2022
It is rare for something as precise and analytical as Wesley Hohfeld’s system of legal relations to serve as a Rorschach blot. For a century now, legal theorists have seen reflected in it their picture of a flat undifferentiated landscape of law – protean material for refashioning on policy grounds. This was not Hohfeld’s vision and yet it is not wholly untrue to it either. Hohfeld believed, as did many others in his day, that greater clarity about basic legal concepts and clearing away ambiguities would make law transparent to policy and lead inexorably to improvement in the law.1 The first step in clearing away the cobwebs was to ground the law in its micro foundations. This is where the trouble starts.