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The Practice of PrincipleIn Defence of a Pragmatist Approach to Legal Theory$
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Jules Coleman

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199264124

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199264124.001.0001

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The Conventionality Thesis

The Conventionality Thesis

(p.74) Lecture Seven— The Conventionality Thesis
The Practice of Principle


Oxford University Press

This chapter defends the conventionality thesis — the claim that legal authority is made possible by a specific set of conventional social practice. It begins by considering the widely misunderstood relationship between the rule of recognition and the social practice of officials. It then argues that contrary to the views of many positivists, the rule of recognition purports to be, and can be, a duty-imposing rule. The chapter concludes by considering the objection that to explain the existence conditions of legal authority in terms of a rule of recognition whose existence condition depends on the behaviour of ‘officials’ is, in the end, to explain law in terms of law.

Keywords:   legal theory, legal practice, conventionality thesis, social practice, rule of recognition

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