Legal Institutions

  • Dick W. P. Ruiter
Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 18)


Present-day legal systems are based on the idea that legal norms stem primarily from performances of the acts-in-the-law contained in them. Actsin-the-law are declarative speech acts specified in legal norms of competence. Again, legal norms of competence result from performances of competence-conferring acts-in-the-law that are in turn grounded in further legal norms of competence, the ultimate source of legal validity being the assumption that any performance of a declarative speech act by the constitutional authorities yields a legal norms as long as the community subject to the legal system remains, on the whole, prepared to act upon this assumption.1


Legal System Legal Rule Legal Norm Legal Institution Constitutive Rule 
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  1. 1.
    Weinberger (1991), 117: The constitutional norms — be they explicitely or implicitely (i.e. merely doctrinally) presented — are real (or effective) when they function as a framework for the practices and the actions of society. This does not necessarily mean that the rules of constitutional law are always obeyed; but it does mean that they determine the organisation and the life of the institution. As a result, constitutional law describes the political reality of the state not as a system of observable facts and processes — its normative nature prevents it from doing so -, but it must correspond to the reality of social practices.’Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    MacCormick and Weinberger (1986), 54.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See MacCormick and Weinberger (1986), Introduction, 1–30; Weinberger (1991), Foreword by MacCormick, pp. ix-xii and Author’s preface pp. xiii-xviii, 3–29; furthermore, Bankowksi (1989) and Peczenik (1989), 233–236.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    MacCormick and Weinberger (1986), 51.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid., 51.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ibid., 52.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ibid., 52..Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ibid., 52–53.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ibid., 53.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    MacCormick and Weinberger (1986), 52–54; Weinberger (1991), 156–157.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Ibid., 59.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Ross (1958), 170–172.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Ibid. A similar analysis of the use of the concept ‘right’ can be found in Finnis (1980), 201 ff.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    MacCormick acknowledges his debt to Ross by mentioning the latter’s famous ‘TûTû’, 70 Harvard Law Review (1957), 812–825. See MacCormick and Weinberger (1986), 75, note 11. Ross’s account of the matter appears to have become a standard feature of Scandinavian legal theory. See: T. Eckhoff and N.K. Sundby, Rechtssysteme, eine rechtstheoretische Einführung in die Rechtstheorie, Berlin. 1988. 111 ff.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Ross (1958), 172.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    See Weinberger (1991), 159, for a brief but convincing argument in support of the institutionalist position.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    Though consequential rules other than norms of conduct are possible. See MacCormick and Weinberger (1986), 66.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Ibid., 59–60.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Ibid., 65. Not every institutive rule is power-conferring: ‘To take but one example, the existence of rights of intestate succession depends solely upon the occurrence of an event, somebody’s dying without leaving a valid will, which is not always or even commonly a deliberate or voluntary act.’Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Ibid., 65, 71.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Weinberger (1991), 160.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Ibid., 158.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Ibid., 20.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    Ibid., 20–21.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    Ibid., 21.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    Ibid., 6.Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    Ibid., 6.Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    Ibid., 6–7.Google Scholar
  29. 30.
    Ibid., 22.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    Ibid., 22–23.Google Scholar
  31. 32.
    Ibid., 23.Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    Ibid., 23.Google Scholar
  33. 34.
    Ibid., 159.Google Scholar
  34. 35.
    Ibid., 157.Google Scholar
  35. 36.
    Weinberger is inspired by the ‘idée directrice’ that is central to Maurice Hauriou’s theory of the institution. See Weinberger (1991), 158, 163–166. See also MacCormick and Weinberger (1986), 25–26.Google Scholar
  36. 37.
    Weinberger (1991), 159.Google Scholar
  37. 38.
    Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously, corrected new impression, London, 1978, 17.Google Scholar
  38. 39.
    Ibid., 34.Google Scholar
  39. 40.
    Ibid., 22.Google Scholar
  40. 41.
    Ibid., 40.Google Scholar
  41. 42.
    The terms stem from Wróblewski’s distinction between systemic validity (validity), factual validity (efficacy) and axiological validity (acceptability). See for an extensive exposition Aarnio (1987), 33–46.Google Scholar
  42. 43.
    Cf. MacCormick and Weinberger(1986), 128–129. Here MacCormick formulates the two basic tenets of legal positivism: (i) The existence of laws is not dependent on their satisfying any particular moral values of universal application to all legal systems. (ii) The existence of laws depends upon their being established through the decisions of human beings in society.Google Scholar
  43. 44.
    Dworkin (1978), 29.Google Scholar
  44. 45.
    Ibid., 28.Google Scholar
  45. 46.
    Ibid., 29. Here he formulates this position as one of two options, while later adopting it as his own. Cf. 44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dick W. P. Ruiter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Administration and Public PolicyUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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