Legal positivism is a school of thought of analytical jurisprudence, largely developed by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century legal thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham and John Austin. While Bentham and Austin developed legal positivist theory, empiricism and logical positivism set the theoretical foundations for such developments to occur. The most prominent legal positivist writing in English has been H. L. A. Hart, who in 1958 found common usages of "positivism" as applied to law to include the contentions that:
laws are commands of human beings
there is no necessary connection between law and morals—that is, between law as it is and as it ought to be
analysis (or study of the meaning) of legal concepts is worthwhile and is to be distinguished from history or sociology of law, as well as from criticism or appraisal of law, for example with regard to its moral value or to its social aims or functions
a legal system is a closed, logical system in which correct decisions can be deduced from predetermined legal rules without reference to social considerations
moral judgments, unlike statements of fact, cannot be established or defended by rational argument, evidence, or proof ("noncognitivism" in ethics)
Historically, legal positivism sits in opposition to natural law theories of jurisprudence, with particular disagreement surrounding the natural lawyer's claim that there is a necessary connection between law and morality.