Revisiting the Hart-Devlin Debate

19 Pages Posted: 21 May 2018

See all articles by James Allan

James Allan

The University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law

Date Written: January 19, 2018


The article reconsiders the Hart-Devlin debate. It begins with some peripheral observations not generally noted, including how sex was the issue chosen to illustrate the larger issue of when the criminal law should be used to enforce norms of conduct that exist independently of that criminal law; it considers how the debate relates to democratic concerns; and it concludes that in big picture terms it was Devlin, not Hart, who won the debate.

Keywords: Hart, Devlin, proper scope of the law, democracy

JEL Classification: K100

Suggested Citation

Allan, James, Revisiting the Hart-Devlin Debate (January 19, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

James Allan (Contact Author)

The University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law ( email )

The University of Queensland
St Lucia
4072 Brisbane, Queensland 4072

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