Abstract: The present article examines the subject of jurisprudence, which is the theory and philosophy of the nature of law. The purpose of jurisprudence is to analyse the nature of law and figure out what we mean when we say that some rule in society is a law, or that some person has committed a crime or a non-criminal breach of law (e.g., a tort or breach of contract). This issue is clearly important to libertarian theory, since the claim that government is a criminal institution must be backed by some jurisprudential analysis of the nature of “law” and “crime”. (In short, if libertarians want to make this claim, they need to define their terms and support their usage of these terms.) Such an analysis provides the underlying philosophical rationale for claims that the actions of governments are crimes and that these governments may properly be regarded as an organised criminal enterprises.
Our purpose here is twofold. One is to examine some conceptions of the nature of law and the semantic issue of which meaning of the terms “law” and “crime” is the most sensible in the context of an examination of the actions of government agents. Another is to see why this semantic issue matters in the advocacy of libertarian ideas.