Social norms and the internal point of view: An elaboration of Hart's genealogy of law

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


HLA Hart tells us about how law would have emerged in a world of primary rules - informal, beneficial norms - by adjustments that the primary rules would naturally require; these adjustments would have introduced secondary rules for regulating the primary. But he does little to explain how the primary rules would themselves have emerged and, by most accounts, does not expand appropriately on the idea that the relevant players in his story would have taken an internal point of view, as he calls it, on the rules involved. This article, presented as the Hart Memorial Lecture on 14 June 2018, argues that both problems can be resolved at once. Elaborating on Hart's story with an account of how primary rules might have emerged, it also explains why those regularities would have attracted such a point of view. It argues that the emerging primary rules would have come to be perceived, internalised and ratified by all, and would even have been seen as rules to which each was personally committed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-258
Number of pages30
JournalOxford Journal of Legal Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


  • Genealogy
  • Hart
  • Internalisation
  • Law
  • Primary rules
  • Secondary rules


Dive into the research topics of 'Social norms and the internal point of view: An elaboration of Hart's genealogy of law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this