• Riccardo Guastini Istituto Tarello per la Filosofia del Diritto, Genoa University
Keywords: Rule of recognition, Recognition of sources, Recognition of norms, Recognition sentence


(1) The rule of recognition (RR) is a conceptual criterion for identifying the rules of a definite legal system. It is not a duty-imposing rule. It is neither the constitution of the legal system at hand nor the set of its rules of change. Most of all, it is not a legal rule belonging to the system – rather it belongs to the meta-legal language of those who aim to identify a legal system. (2) The RR of legal sources (statutes, the constitution, and so forth) is to be distinguished from the RR of legal norms, understood as the meaning contents of legal sources, that has to take into account the interpretive practices of judges and legal scholars. As to the RR of norms, a further distinction is in order: the RR of valid norms, the RR of existing norms, and the RR of the norms in force. Each of such rules incorporates different criteria. (3) Two “statements of recognition” can be distinguished: (i) “The norm N is valid (existing, in force)”, (ii) “If these, as defined by the RR, are the criteria of recognition, then the norm N is valid (existing, in force)”. The sentence (i) uses the RR and, in this sense, is “internal”, but does not entail any kind of axiological acceptance, the RR being a definition, not a norm of behaviour. The sentence (ii), in turn, does not use, but only mentions the RR. In both cases, there is no connection between the recognition statements and the moral or political acceptance (the binding force) of the legal system.

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