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

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.


  • Uta Bindreiter
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law


  • 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
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2000 Jun 3
Print ISBNs91-628-4229-3
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic 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 ---