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Work in progress
...then and now

Current worries
Recent publications
Oxford D.Phil thesis (2009)
Oxford transfer thesis (2004)
Pilgrimage to jurisprudential colonies (2002-3)
Undergraduate Jurisprudence paper, in Spanish (2001)

Current worries

  • Revising DPhil thesis for publication as a book titled Legal Validity

  • Criminalising psychological forms and causes of harm

  • Legal Validity: Law's Craftmanship of Rights (chapter in the book Legislated Rights, Webber and Yowell, eds.)

  • Methodological critique of Andrei Marmor, Philosophy of Law (for a 2013 'author-meets-critics' symposium in Oxford, to be published in the Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies)

  • Current challenges to the rule of law (for a 2014 workshop in Mendoza, Argentina, to be published in the corresponding book)

  • Is there a necessary connection between law and immorality?

  • Rule of law-based moral limits of criminalization (particularly in the areas of harassment, ‘domestic violence’, sexual offences, and property offences involving deception or exploitation)

  • Fault standards in the criminal law (particularly ‘practical indifference’, and voluntary and involuntary intoxication)

  • Historical development of the concept ‘legal validity’, from Roman law to modern constitutional states (based on my 2006 historical research that never made it into the DPhil thesis)

  • The nature of customary law in modern legal systems

Recent publications

are listed on my
faculty profile.

Oxford D.Phil. thesis (2009)

My DPhil thesis was 
entitled 'Some Main Questions Concerning Legal Validity' (D.Phil. thesis titles must be descriptive, not catchy). It was submitted and examined in the Autumn 2009. Below are a brief a table of contents and an abstract.

  • Chapter 1: Legal Validity: What and Why?
  • Chapter 2: Power-Conferring Norms: Towards a Logical Analysis
  • Chapter 3: Count-as Norms
  • Chapter 4: The 'Shell' and Coordination
  • Chapter 5: The Systemic Character of Legal Meaning
  • Chapter 6: The Law's Claim
  • Chapter 7: Conclusion


This thesis develops an account of legal validity by attending to the nature of the legally valid act and its practical point. The argument starts at Hart’s characterisation of legal powers as intrinsically tied to legal validity (the soundness of the starting point is confirmed in the course of the thesis). Because an adequate understanding of the norms conferring legal powers requires studying both their social function and their logical structure, and Hart and Raz rather neglected the latter aspect, an analysis of the logical structure of power-conferring norms is undertaken. Their logical bare bones (X counts as Y) turn out to be common to some rules governing language: in both realms, the relevant norms are an aid to rendering identifiable the agent’s reflexive intentions. The comparison with communication, especially the sense in which the fact of a convergent practice lies at the foundations of the existence of the relevant norms, sheds new light on the social function of power-conferring norms as the solution of a distinct kind of coordination problem: identifying law. This is only one level of coordination involved in law, the other level – the main one – being law’s coordination of manifold human affairs for the common good’s sake. Understanding the close intertwinement yet permanent tension between these two levels yields yet deeper insights into what legal validity is for, an essential step towards understanding what legal validity is. Coordination along those two levels is the law’s distinct moral purpose, and the purpose that the law precisely as law plausibly claims to have. When people exercise legal powers, they can reasonably be regarded as carrying out this purpose on the law’s behalf. Performing a legally valid act is thus best understood as (directly or mediately) making salient (‘marking’) a certain kind of conduct on the law’s behalf, and as claiming, on the law’s behalf, that that kind of conduct, because it solves a coordination problem, is morally obligatory.

Oxford transfer thesis (2004)
'Two Dimensions of Legal Validity' - The thesis proposed an analysis of the notion of legal validity in terms of a 'two dimensional scheme' (the ideal dimension, and the genealogical dimension), as a fruitful explanatory device and a constructive reading of Hart and, perhaps, Kelsen. The text makes only very preliminary points with respect to the topics taken up in my DPhil research. If you'd like to see the file, please drop me a line.

Some of my modest incursions into neighbouring disciplines have included Phenomenology (paper for Prof. C. Parson's seminar at the Harvard Philosophy Department, 2003), (German) Sociology of Law (paper for Dr. H. Rottleuthner's course in the Brussels Academy, 2002), (French) Sociology of Law (paper for Dr. A.-J. Arnaud's course in the Brussels Academy, 2002), European Legal History (paper for Dr. A. Wijffels' course in the Brussels Academy, 2002), and Hermeneutic Criminal Law Theory (paper for for Dr. M. van de Kerchove's course in the Brussels Academy, 2002). I'm happy to send any of the files upon request.

Undergraduate Jurisprudence paper, in Spanish (2001)
My undergraduate Jurisprudence paper was a sweet attempt to systematise all the connections between Law and Morality (!?!). Needless to say, the most important ones were missing. File can be sent upon request.



(that's just a link to the index.htm file)

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