The American Legal Realists offered several hypotheses about alternative drivers of official decision-making (i.e., considerations other than the rules on the books). This article identifies a tension between two of those hypotheses: the ‘extra-legal’ factors and ‘working’ rules. This tension gets exacerbated in Frederick Schauer’s account of Legal Realism, one which places his Dislocated Determinacy thesis—about working rules constituting an additional ground for the existence of ‘easy’ cases and determinacy across a legal system—into doubt.
Several scholars advance the ‘LR-LP thesis’: the claim that American Legal Realism presupposes Legal Positivism. Brian Leiter and Frederick Schauer, prominent scholars of Realism, delimit that thesis to a Razian version of Exclusive Legal Positivism (‘ELP’). This article nevertheless argues that Leiter and Schauer’s respective accounts of Legal Realism are difficult to square with Razian ELP. Indeed, the Realist hypotheses about alternative drivers of official decision, concerning ‘working’ rules, ‘real’ rules, and ‘situation-types’, if correct, actually threaten Razian ELP. -/- Problems (...) arise for the LR-LP thesis (as delimited to Razian ELP) irrespective of whether those three Realist alternative drivers are classified as legal or non-legal norms. If they are non-legal, merits-based norms, then (a) those alternative drivers do much more work within official decision than ELP suggests is the case for those sorts of norms, and (b), Inclusive Legal Positivism may better, and might even be required, to explain them. Alternatively, if those Realist alternative drivers are better understood as source-based legal norms, then they cannot fulfil (or even be claimed by the law to fulfil) certain core functions that ELP attributes to legal norms. (shrink)
Many jurisdictions prohibit or severely restrict the use of evidence about a defendant’s character to prove legal culpability. Situationists, who argue that conduct is largely determined by situational features rather than by character, can easily defend this prohibition. According to situationism, character evidence is misleading or paltry. -/- Proscriptions on character evidence seem harder to justify, however, on virtue ethical accounts. It appears that excluding character evidence either denies the centrality of character for explaining conduct—the situationist position—or omits probative evidence. (...) Situationism is, after all, presented as antithetical to virtue ethics. -/- This essay provides a virtue ethical defense of character evidence exclusion rules. We show that existing virtue ethical rebuttals to situationism themselves support prohibitions on character evidence; even if behavior arises from stable character traits, character evidence should be prohibited. In building our case, we provide a taxonomy of kinds of character judgment and reconcile the ubiquity and reasonableness of character judgments in ordinary life with the epistemic legitimacy of character evidence prohibitions in law. (shrink)
Law is a system of legal rules and legal principles. The distinction between them is a relative one. Always such definite major and minor premises are to be formed that the case can be subsumed under the rule and a conclusion, which includes the decision, can be drawn. This applies to legal principles that are operationalised by legal rules as well as to statutory forms of legal rules, which are often open as to their meaning and/or contain definitions that comprise (...) elements of principles. The basic characteristic of legal principles is that they are value measures directing the definition of legal rules as to their contents, the understanding of the rules, and the manner of their application. Legal principles aim at a goal, have weight, and define the scope of the meaning within which the legal rules move. The operationalisation of legal principles is the _ratio decidendi_ that the court has to achieve in order to be able to decide in a concrete case. Legal principles live through the rules that are the reasons for the decision in a concrete case. New cases can be solved by a new operationalisation of legal principles or by analogous application of precedents if the new cases, in their essential elements, correspond to cases that have already been decided. (shrink)
Building on earlier work, this paper develops a model of legal rules that admit of exceptions but are nonetheless governed by classical logic. The account is defended against alternative accounts that construe legal rules as generics, or as default rules.
Can there be a theory of law? -- Two views of the nature of the theory of law : a partial comparison -- On the nature of law -- The problem of authority : revisiting the service conception -- About morality and the nature of law -- Incorporation by law -- Reasoning with rules -- Why interpret? -- Interpretation without retrieval -- Intention in interpretation -- Interpretation : pluralism and innovation -- On the authority and interpretation of constitutions : some (...) preliminaries -- Postema on law's autonomy and public practical reasons : a critical comment. (shrink)
This article argues that legal precedents do not create rules, but rather create a special type of reason in favour of a decision in later cases. Precedents are often argued to be analogous to statutes in their law-creating function, but the common law practice of distinguishing is difficult to reconcile with orthodox accounts of the function of rules. Instead, a precedent amounts to a decision on the balance of reasons in the case before the precedent court, and later courts are (...) required to decide cases on the basis that the earlier decision was correctly decided. (shrink)
Rules proliferate; some are kept with a bureaucratic stringency bordering on the absurd, while others are manipulated and ignored in ways that injure our sense of justice. Under what conditions should we make exceptions to rules, and when should they be followed despite particular circumstances? The two dominant models in the literature on rules are the particularist account and that which sees the application of rules as normative. Taking a position that falls between these two extremes, Alan Goldman provides a (...) systematic framework to clarify when we need to follow rules in our moral, legal and prudential decisions, and when we ought not to do so. The book distinguishes among various types of rules; it illuminates concepts such as integrity, self-interest and self-deception; and finally, it provides an account of ordinary moral reasoning without rules. This book will be of great interest to advanced students and professionals working in philosophy, law, decision theory and the social sciences. (shrink)
The essays in this volume are all concerned with the arguments about law as a system of rule-based decision-making,particularly the ideas advanced by legal philosopher Frederick Schauer. Schauer's work has not only helped revive interest in legal formalism but has also helped relocate arguments about the relationship between posited rules and morality. The contributors to this volume, themselves distinguished theorists, have concentrated on three aspects of Schauer's work: the nature of jurisprudential description; his theory of presumptive positivism; and the application (...) of his theory of rule-based decision-making to other areas of legal and moral thought. Contributors: Larry Alexander, Brian Bix, Philip Bobbitt, Marianne Constable, Michael C. Dorf, Jeremy Elkins, Claire Oakes Finkelstein, Leo Katz, Jason Johnston, Dennis Patterson. (shrink)
Rules are a central component of such diverse enterprises as law, morality, language, games, religion, etiquette, and family governance, but there is often confusion about what a rule is, and what rules do. Offering a comprehensive philosophical analysis of these questions, this book challenges much of the existing legal, jurisprudential, and philosophical literature, by seeing a significant role for rules, an equally significant role for their stricter operation, and making the case for rules as devices for the allocation of power (...) among decision-makers. (shrink)
Practical Reason and Norms focuses on three problems: In what way are rules normative, and how do they differ from ordinary reasons? What makes normative systems systematic? What distinguishes legal systems, and in what consists their normativity? All three questions are answered by taking reasons as the basic normative concept, and showing the distinctive role reasons have in every case, thus paving the way to a unified account of normativity. Rules are a structure of reasons to perform the required act (...) and an exclusionary reason not to follow some competing reasons. Exclusionary reasons are explained, and used to unlock the secrets of orders, promises, and decisions as well as rules. Games are used to exemplify normative systems. Inevitably, the analysis extends to some aspects of normative discourse, which is truth-apt, but with a diminished assertoric force. (shrink)
The author singles out various conceptions of rationality used in practical legal discourse: formal and substantive rationality, instrumental goal‐ and means‐rationality, communicative rationality. Practical rationality is expressed in decisions justified by epistemic and axiological premises according to the rules of justificatory reasoning. Five levels of analysis of this justification are identified. Rules, principles and evaluations are used as justifying arguments and their characteristics determine the dimensions of rationality of decision depending on the features of rules, various conceptions of principles, and (...) kinds of relativisation of evaluations. The dimensions of legal rationality depend mainly on three singled out conceptions of rationality, i.e., formal rationality dealing with the deep structure of justification, instrumentally oriented rationality as content of justifiability, and communicative rationality linked with the pragmatics of human interaction. Legitimacy, according to the presented analysis, appears as a subclass of external justification dealing with axiological premisses in terms of instrumental rationality and/or communicative rationality. (shrink)
What is special about legal reasoning? In what way is it distinctive? How does it differ from reasoning in medicine, or engineering, physics, or everyday life? The answers range from the very ambitious to the modest. The ambitious claim that there is a special and distinctive legal logic, or legal ways of reasoning, modes of reasoning which set the law apart from all other disciplines. Opposing them are the modest, who claim that there is nothing special to legal reasoning, that (...) reason is the same in all domains. According to them, only the contents of the law differentiate it from other areas of inquiry, whereas its mode of reasoning is the one common to all domains of inquiry. (shrink)