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Can There Be a Democratic Jurisprudence?

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law

October 8, 2008

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-35

General jurisprudence purports to consider law in general. But to break out of the arid abstractions of analytic legal philosophy, it may be worth also giving some jurisprudential consideration to the distinctive features of law in the context of a particular kind of political system. This paper considers the jurisprudence of law in a modern democracy. It explores a suggestion (made by Ronald Dworkin and others) that legal positivism might be a theory particularly apt for a democracy. And it explores the meaning and significance for democratic political theory of ideas like the generality of law, the separation of law and morality, the sources thesis, and law's public orientation. At the very end, the paper also considers Jean-Jacques Rousseau's view that the word "law" should be confined to measures that are applicable to all, made by all, and enacted in the spirit of a general will.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: analytic legal philosophy, democracy, Hart, jurisprudence, legal positivism, Rousseau, separation of law and morality, sources of law,

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Date posted: October 8, 2008 ; Last revised: November 12, 2008

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, Can There Be a Democratic Jurisprudence? (October 8, 2008). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-35. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1280923 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1280923

Contact Information

Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
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