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Peter Winch and H.L.A. Hart: Two Concepts of the Internal Point of View

Rodriguez-Blanco, V (2007) Peter Winch and H.L.A. Hart: Two Concepts of the Internal Point of View The Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 20 (2). pp. 453-473.

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In his book The Concept of Law, Hart advances an arresting idea: the internal point of view. The idea immediately captured the imagination of legal theorists and was envisaged as a step forward in understanding both the nature of law and its practices. There is, however, lack of clarity and ambiguity on understanding Hart’s important notion and its role in different key jurisprudential problems such as the normativity of law and the methodology of legal theory. This article reconstructs the intellectual roots of the internal point of view and argues that although the seeds of Hart’s idea can be found in Winch’s seminal book The Idea of a Social Science, there are striking differences between Hart’s and Winch’s notions of the internal point of view. Winch endeavors to explain the participant’s viewpoint in terms of what the participants are doing. On the other hand, Hart aims to provide an explanation of how the law enables judges and law-abiding citizens to determine what they ought to do. This difference has been often overlooked by legal scholars; however, it provides the key to understanding Hart’s connection between the internal viewpoint and the normativity of law, i.e., the idea that legal rules provide reasons for action and, in some circumstances, create and impose duties and obligations. The distinction also illuminates the demarcation in the methodology of legal theory between an explanation from a detached perspective, namely the second or third-person standpoint of the practical point of view and, on the other hand, either a theoretical or hermeneutical explanation of the participant’s point of view. I argue that the non-recognition of the practical/participant distinction has been pervasive in two ways. First, there has been an overemphasis on the distinction between the internal and the external point of view. Second, a more fundamental distinction between an ‘engaged’ and ‘detached’ viewpoint which is a predominant feature of the practical point of view has been under-researched.

Item Type: Article
Subjects : Law
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Law
Authors :
Rodriguez-Blanco, V
Date : 2007
DOI : 10.1017/S0841820900004288
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright 2007 Cambridge University Press
Additional Information : Full text not available from this repository.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 09 Sep 2016 14:51
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 18:41

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