Making Sense of Nonsense Jurisprudence

64 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2020 Last revised: 7 Dec 2020

See all articles by Dan Priel

Dan Priel

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: September 21, 2020


Did Ronald Dworkin think morality is timeless? He did not. But he did think it was universal, right? No to that as well. Turning to jurisprudence, did he think that morality is a criterion of legal validity? No. But he thought morality is part of the law, didn’t he? Not quite. How can you say this? Is it not obvious that Dworkin was not a legal positivist, and does this not imply that he must have been a natural lawyer? Actually, he was neither. So you’re saying that Dworkin invented a new theory of law? No, his views are a version of a theory with centuries of history. Any other thoughts about Dworkin? Yes, he was a legal realist. Is this a joke? I assure you it’s not. This paper explains why, and why it matters.

Keywords: Ronald Dworkin, legal positivism, jurisprudence, common law theory, legal realism

Suggested Citation

Priel, Dan, Making Sense of Nonsense Jurisprudence (September 21, 2020). Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper , Available at SSRN: or

Dan Priel (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

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Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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