The reception of Robert Alexy’s work in Anglo-American jurisprudence

Julian Rivers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
373 Downloads (Pure)


At first sight, the work of the German legal philosopher and constitutional theorist, Robert Alexy, appears to offer a welcome counter-example to the general insulation of Anglo-American jurisprudence from continental European influences. Over the last 30 years, his ideas and writings have become increasingly available in English, and they have stimulated a growing engagement in response. However, this immediate impression masks an unevenness in the reception of his work. In this article I trace the history and extent of this reception, contrasting its variability with the internally systemic and coherent quality of Alexy’s entire oeuvre. I suggest that the causes for this variability are to be found in the intellectual climate of modern anglophone jurisprudence, in which work in the Kantian legal-philosophical tradition is unfamiliar or viewed with caution. A deeper theoretical development needs to take place if his work is to be appreciated holistically. However, there are signs that such a development is taking place, and it is possible that in time the reception of Alexy’s work will be seen to be part of that longer-term process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-150
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Early online date25 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


  • Anglo-American jurisprudence
  • Constitutional rights
  • Discourse theory
  • Germany
  • Kantian jurisprudence
  • Legal argumentation
  • Non-positivism
  • Reception
  • Robert Alexy


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