Self-referring Laws

H. L. A. Hart

in Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy

Published in print November 1983 | ISBN: 9780198253884
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681431 | DOI:
Self-referring Laws

Show Summary Details


This chapter addresses the doubts experienced in the section ‘The Never-ending Series of Sanctions’ in Kelsen's General Theory of Law and State. It is assumed that a law may perfectly well refer to itself so long as it also refers to other laws. There are many examples of self-referring laws to be found in the field of constitutional law, especially in the constitutional law of the British Commonwealth. However, Professor Alf Ross, in his book on law and justice, expresses the view that in spite of the existence of such examples as Article V of the United States Constitution, self-referring laws are logically objectionable. In addition, the chapter also describes why it is thought that such a wholesale rejection of self-referring laws is wrong.

Keywords: British Commonwealth; justice; Kelsen; Alf Ross; United States Constitution

Chapter.  3745 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.