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Leon Duguit

Leon Duguit criticized the traditional notions of state sovereignty and law and sought to make a new approach to matters of social jurisprudence from the angle of society. Duguit propounded a natural law theory with strongly sociological overtones. However his doctrine was opposed to natural law doctrine of the age of enlightenment in that he repudiated any natural or inalienable rights of individuals. His objective was to overthrow the traditional system of legal rights by a system of his own that would recognize only legal duties. He was of the view that the only right that any man might be said to possess is the right to do his duty. Despite his emphasis on social duties, Duguit reject any absolutist conception of state power. To Duguit a state is not a person distinct from individuals. Duguit was in favor of a strong check on the abuse of state power through the principles of establishment of strict principles of state responsibility. He sought to strip the state and its organs of all sovereign rights and other attributes of sovereignty with which the traditional doctrine of public law had bestowed upon it. Duguit rejects the notion of the personality of state and says that a realist examination shows merely that certain persons govern and others obey. Law must limit a state. Duguit says that a rule becomes law even before it is recognized by state provided it has behind it the effective support of the community. A state cannot claim any special position or privilege. It is not a mystical entity but an organization of men that can only be justified do far it furthers social solidarity. Duguit attacked the notion of sovereignty as well. To him it has become meaningless. It used to be a personal attribute of a monarch and therefore such ideas as sovereignty of the people and the like are inappropriate and empty.

The notion is not appropriate as regards British Commonwealth or Federal States. Decentralization makes it difficult to locate sovereignty. Duguit maintained that when the state ceases to further the cause of social solidarity there is duty to revolt against it. To Duguit law arises because men live together and can only live together. Law does not depend on the will of the ruler. Land and foot bind the ruler by law that he cannot change. The social function of law according to Duguit is the realization of social solidarity. According to Duguit social interdependence is an inescapable fact of human existence. The outstanding feature of a society is the interdependence of men.This interdependence existed always and even grows more and more widespread as the life in society gets more complex and man's mastery of world increases. Men have common needs they also have dissimilar needs that cannot be fulfilled without mutual adjustment and accommodation. No one can satisfy his needs and can live in present day world without depending on the services provided by the others. This social interdependence is not disputed and in truth cannot be disputed. All organizations must strive towards cooperation between people. Duguit regarded social solidarity not as a rule of conduct or imperative but a fundamental fact of human existence. The social solidarity gets converted into a normative principle under Duguit's rule of law and this rule of law demands from every body that he must contribute to the full realization of social solidarity. The rule of law has to establish definition, limitation on the power of all governing authorities. As a consequence no statue or administrative order is valid which is not in consonance with the principle of social solidarity and social interdependence.