Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Mortimer Sellers, Stephan Kirste

Alexy’s Theory of Rules and Principles

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0_380-2


Notwithstanding a mere classification of norms, in its plainest and initial understanding, Alexy’s distinction between rules and principles is the cornerstone of a systematic comprehension of law, encompassing multiple and diversified assertions that compound what might be qualified as a complete theory of law. As the starting point of the principles theory, Alexy’s contraposition between rules and principles has implications in various legal fields, such as, and just naming a few, the theory of norms, the role of proportionality, the methodological operations in the application of law, or the theory of rights. If one takes into account the new framework created in legal science, its large scope, the amount of research made underneath, and its diffusion, Alexy’s principles theory can even be seen as a paradigm shift in legal science.

The Opening Criterion of Distinction

Alexy’s distinction between rules and principles is based, at a first level, on a criterion regarding...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

Section editors and affiliations

  • Miodrag Jovanovic
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theory, Sociology and Philosophy of LawUniversity of Belgrade, Faculty of LawBelgradeSerbia