Has Raz Drawn the Semantic Sting?

Posted: 5 Nov 2009 Last revised: 8 Nov 2012

See all articles by Dale Smith

Dale Smith

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: November 4, 2009


This article examines Joseph Raz's response to Ronald Dworkin's ‘semantic sting’ argument against legal positivism. In his response, Raz defends a ‘criterial’ approach to conceptual explanation. I argue that this approach can account for some theoretical disagreements about law, but cannot account for the theoretical disagreements Dworkin discusses in Law's Empire. For this reason, Raz's response is unsuccessful. I then contend that Raz's discussion of another aspect of Dworkin's work suggests an alternative objection to the semantic sting argument, and consider how Dworkin might respond to this alternative objection.

Keywords: Law and Philosophy, Legal philosophy, Raz, Dworkin, semantic sting argument

JEL Classification: K00, K4, K49

Suggested Citation

Smith, Dale, Has Raz Drawn the Semantic Sting? (November 4, 2009). Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-19, Law and Philosophy, Vol. 28, No, 3, p. 291, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1500082

Dale Smith (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010

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