Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Wilfrid Waluchow


Stefan Sciaraffa



Committee Member

Violetta Igneski


This dissertation offers a critical analysis of the dominant philosophical theory of law today: Hartian positivism. The arguments proffered are not meant to strike at the underlying methodology of that account. Rather, they are intended to demonstrate that it performs sub-optimally with regard to its own jurisprudential aspirations. More specifically, this thesis contends that the Hartian position is unable to model the law in a way that captures the de facto terms of institutional governance, while also being able to give due theoretical credence to the normative structures and mechanisms that are widely deployed to regulate it. With this conclusion in hand, a new theory of law is suggested – one that seeks to stay true to the methods and aspirations of its predecessor, but which has been constructed so as to surpass its descriptive-explanatory capabilities. In this way, the following dissertation means to push analytic jurisprudence beyond the Hartian pale, and into new areas of theoretical discourse.

McMaster University Library