Presuppositions and Consequences of Applicability

  • Pablo E. Navarro CONICET, Argentina, and Faculty of Law, University of Girona
Keywords: Validity, Internal Applicability, External Applicability, Justification of Judicial Decisions, Applicability Criteria


In this paper, I analyze the reconstruction that Jorge L. Rodríguez offers of the applicability of legal norms in his last book. In particular, (i) I distinguish between the internal and external applicability of legal norms and (ii) I revise the thesis according to which a norm is internally applicable if and only if it is externally applicable. I argue that the distinction between internal and external applicability sheds light on, for example, the individualization of norms, the institutional forces of law, legal validity and effectiveness, normative hierarchy, and the truth-conditions of normative statements. Unlike Rodriguez, I will argue that the internal applicability of a norm N does not necessarily coincide with its external applicability. Finally, I will conclude that the greatest source of our difficulties and discrepancies arises from vacillating uses of language and insufficiently articulated intuitions. These perplexities concerning the applicability of legal norms can be dissolved in different ways and, therefore, different schemes of analysis can be constructed. In short, in my view, the problems of the applicability of the law are not so much ontological as rather methodological.

Analytical Theory of Law. A debate