Candidate: Luis M. Sanchez

Title: Waldron’s Concept of Rule of Law and Legal Theory

Date and time: 11am, Friday 4 February 2022



This thesis examines Jeremy Waldron’s contributions to updating the rule of law theory. Waldron thinks that the rule of law is an essentially contested concept and criticizes the view of what he calls “casual positivism”. He discusses problems about formal and substantive conceptions of the rule of law, the relations between the rule of law and the concept of law, between the rule of law and legal argumentation, and the rule of law, democracy, and the judiciary’s role. His theory reenvisages the idea of the rule of law in connection with a re-valuing of Fuller’s “internal morality” of law and Dworkin interpretive view.

The thesis argues that Waldron’s view of the rule of law is distinctive by suggesting a more comprehensive concept connecting the rule of law with the concept of law, with legal reasoning and eventually with some pervasive values such as dignity and equality.

Chapter I outlines the main philosophical approaches to the rule of law before Waldron, considering the debates after Dicey’s contributions, particularly by Hart, Fuller, Raz and Dworkin. It also discusses the formal/substantive distinctions usually made among rule-of-law theories. The revision aims to identify the main issues in the current discussions, essential to understanding Waldron’s concerns.

Chapter II offers an account of Waldron’s legal theory in connection with his legal and political philosophy ideas, constitutional and democratic theory, relevant for understanding his view of the rule of law. The purpose is to identify the main issues of Waldron interest connected to the rule of law and the theoretical assumptions underlying his reasoning. The revision will also give us a first appraisal of the distinctive aspects of Waldron’s approach compared to the traditional positivism and natural law views of the rule of law.