31 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2016 Last revised: 14 Dec 2016

See all articles by Jeremy Waldron

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2016


In "The Legal Process," Henry Hart and Albert Sachs discussed what they called "the technique of self-applying regulation." They said that "[o]verwhelmingly the greater part of the general body of the law is self-applying" and they maintained that this is "of enormous significance alike in the theory and in the practice of social orderings." In this paper I explore and discuss the Hart and Sacks idea of self-application. I consider the reasons we have, in some areas of law, for not using it. I discuss the use of similar ideas in the work of H.L.A. Hart. I discuss self-application by officials as well as by firms and citizens. I consider the self-application of what we call standards as opposed to rules. And I discuss whether the use of the technique of self-applying regulation reflects any sort of strong valuation of individual autonomy or dignity.

Keywords: Legal Process, Hart, Rule of Law, Rules, Self-Applictaion, Standards

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, Self-Application (September 1, 2016). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-46. Available at SSRN: or

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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