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Explicating the Internal Point of View

8 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2006  

Dennis Patterson

European University Institute; Rutgers University School of Law, Camden; Swansea University School of Law; European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)


In The Concept of Law, H.L.A. Hart offered one of the most influential theories of law today. One of the major parts of his theory is the concept of internal and external points of view. When making purely descriptive statements (as opposed to statements that also endorse) about a legal system, Hart claimed that one speaks from an external point of view. In this paper I point out the prescience of Hart in adopting a linguistic framework in his theory, and discuss the external point of view as distinguished from Hart's third point of view, the detached external point of view. This third category allows for statements to be made that do not commit the proponent to the assertion of truth or validity of the statement, since the truth and validity are dependent on the particular legal system.

Suggested Citation

Patterson, Dennis, Explicating the Internal Point of View. Southern Methodist University Law Review, Vol. 52, 1999. Available at SSRN:

Dennis Patterson (Contact Author)

European University Institute ( email )

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Rutgers University School of Law, Camden ( email )

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Swansea University School of Law

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European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

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