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Mr Daniel Ward's picture


Education CV


  • BCL, Balliol College, University of Oxford (2005-2005)
  • BA, Jurisprudence, Balliol College, University of Oxford (2001-2004)

Professional Qualifications & Experience

  • Employed Barrister and Senior Associate, Marine and International Trade, Clyde & Co LLP (2011-2019)
  • Employed Barrister and Associate, Fishburns LLP (2008-2011)
  • Judicial Assistant to Dyson LJ, Court of Appeal of England and Wales (2007)
  • Pupillage, 9 Stone Buildings (2006-2007)
  • Called to the Bar, Gray's Inn (2006)

Formal research and teaching posts

  • Volunteer assistant, adult education class in basic mathematics, Guildford College (2014-2016)
  • Researcher (book on construction insurance, authored by Paul Reed), Hardwicke Buildings (2008)

Fields of research

Philosophy of law: rules; game theory; the nature of legal orders; authority; the nature of rationality.  

Doctrinal law: contract law, torts, commercial law, insurance law, arbitration, civil procedure.


Thesis: 'The Concept of a Rule'


My doctoral research looks at the concept of a rule. According to an influential strand of thinking in legal philosophy, rules are essentially attitudinal phenomena. They are to do with how people think. On that view, a key criterion for saying that a social or legal rule exists is that some individuals are committed, to one degree or another, to acting in accordance with the rule. At the very least, one needs to be able to hypothesise the existence of an individual with such an attitude. That, at least, appears to be the understanding of HLA Hart, Joseph Raz and Frederick Schauer amongst others. 

In the first part of my thesis, I will seek to follow up my hunch that this framing is far too narrow. I propose an alternative conception: a rule is a persistent, or "entropy-resisting", pattern. What the pattern subsists in depends on the type of rule. Social rules are best seen as patterns of behaviour between individuals (rather than of patterns within the attitudes of individuals), patterns that may be sustained as much by game theoretic concerns as by any form of commitment on anyone's part to follow the rule. Legal rules, meanwhile, are better seen as entropy-resisting patterns within legal data. What are the consequences? One is that the proposed conceptualisation may better account for legal rules that are not really "normative" in any meaningful way, in particular constitutive rules such as the rules on forming a valid contract. Hence, it may better approximate what lawyers are actually doing when they do legal reasoning. Another is that it suggests that it is at least conceptually possible for a community to enjoy the fruits of a rules-based system without its subjects necessarily adopting anything approaching an attitude of obedience towards its rules.  

In the second part of the thesis, I intend to circle back to the views of Hart on the subject and probe into the intellectual context in which they were developed. It seems to me that there is an obvious link between the pre-Hartian view of law, associated with John Austin (which saw laws as constituted by habits of obedience to coercive commands) and behaviourism (broadly, an aversion to scientific or philosophical explanations which depend on mental states and processes). Hart – who was writing on the cusp of the mid-20th century “cognitive revolution” and the turn against behaviourism, appears to be both reacting against and drawing on behaviourist notions. I want to explore these linkages and to consider how the developed insights of the cognitive revolution – in particular those of information theory – might fruitfully be applied to controversies within jurisprudence.


Dr Lars Vinx

Representative Publications


‘Lessons superseded: law, institutional memory and forgetting’, Working paper presented at 5th Cambridge AHRC DTP International Conference, September 2020

'The Arbitration Act 1996, S.44: Interim Assistance From the Court' [2020] Lloyds Maritime & Commercial Law Quarterly 472

'A Taxonomy of Legal Control' (2018) 31(2) Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 431

'Joint names insurance and contracts to insure: untangling the threads' [2009] Lloyds Maritime & Commercial Law Quarterly 239

'New carrots and sticks: Proposals for Reform of CPR Part 36' (2007) 70 Modern Law Review 278

Law/philosophy related, non-academic

'Mistaken' (28 October 2019) Aeon

'ASBOs: Anti-social legislation?' (Spring 2005) Verdict

Start Date

Jan 2020