Why Grundnorm? A Treatise on the Implications of Kelsen's Doctrine

Uta Bindreiter

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The treatise is concerned with the source-—the “Grund”--of the bindingness of law. I contend, first, that the “presupposition” of the basic norm, on a certain reading of Kelsen’s doctrine, can be understood as constituting a normative source of positive law, and, secondly, that this reading of Kelsen admits of addressing the issue of the (formal) legitimacy of supra-national and “directly applicable” rules and other norms.

The issue of the basic norm problematic is addressed by posing and answering three questions, namely: (1) Who presupposes the basic norm? (2) Is it possible to defend the presupposition in a way that is convincing? and (3) What difference does the presupposition make? From taking up and applying doctrines that are drawn from inquiries into what H.L.A. Hart called the “internal aspect” of rules, it becomes clear that internality-—in Kelsenian parlance: the “juristic consciousness”-—is ambivalent in itself and that the ultimate measure of legal argumentation is the legal audience. In the final section of the treatise, I shift perspective: Investigating into the reasons that underlie the risk of conflict inherent in the relationship between the European Court of Justice and authoritative national courts, I argue that the normative “ground” suggested in Part Two--the presupposition of the basic norm as a "Grund" for legal argumentation--is affected, in our times, by the inclusion of democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Law
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2000 Jun 3
ISBN (Print)91-628-4229-3
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2000-06-03
Time: 10:15
Place: Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lundagård, Lund.

External reviewer(s)

Name: Tuori, Kaarlo
Title: Professor
Affiliation: University of Helsinki


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Law

Free keywords

  • recognition
  • Pure Theory
  • presupposition
  • precedence
  • norm hierarchy
  • norm conflict
  • membership
  • "legal ‘ought’"
  • Grundnorm
  • direct applicability
  • Basic norm
  • bindingness
  • validity.
  • Philosophy of law
  • theory of law
  • Rättsfilosofi
  • rättsteori


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