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THE INTELLIGIBILITY OF EXTRALEGAL STATE ACTION: A General Lesson for Debates on Public Emergencies and Legality

  • François Tanguay-Renaud (a1)

Some legal theorists deny that states can conceivably act extralegally in the sense of acting contrary to domestic law. This position finds its most robust articulation in the writings of Hans Kelsen and has more recently been taken up by David Dyzenhaus in the context of his work on emergencies and legality. This paper seeks to demystify their arguments and ultimately contend that we can intelligibly speak of the state as a legal wrongdoer or a legally unauthorized actor.

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D. Dyzenhaus (2005) “The State of Emergency in Legal Theory.” In V.V. Ramraj , M. Hor , and K. Roach , eds., Global Anti-Terrorism Law and Policy, 6589 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).

D. Dyzenhaus (2006) The Constitution of Law: Legality in a Time of Emergency (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).

D. Dyzenhaus (2008) “The Compulsion of Legality.” In V.V. Ramraj , ed., Emergencies and the Limits of Legality, 3359 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).

T. Erskine (2003) “Assigning Responsibilities to Institutional Moral Agents: The Case of States and ‘Quasi-States.’“ In T. Erskine , ed., Can Institutions Have Responsibilities: Collective Agency and International Relations, 1940 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan).

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H. Kelsen (1997) Introduction to the Problems of Legal Theory, translated by B. Litschewski Paulson and S.L. Paulson (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

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Legal Theory
  • ISSN: 1352-3252
  • EISSN: 1469-8048
  • URL: /core/journals/legal-theory
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