Oxford University Press (2016)

Authors
Geert Keil
Humboldt-University, Berlin
Abstract
Vague expressions are omnipresent in natural language. Their use in legal texts is inevitable. A law phrased in vague terms will often leave it indeterminate whether it applies to a particular case. This places the law at odds with legal values. One of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law is legal certainty. The determinacy of the law enables people to use it as a guide and allows judges make impartial decisions. Vagueness poses a threat to these ideals. In borderline cases, the law seems to be indeterminate and thus incapable of serving its core rule of law value. In the philosophy of language, vagueness has become one of the hottest topics of the past two decades. Linguists and philosophers have investigated what distinguishes ‘soritical’ vagueness from other kinds of linguistic indeterminacy, such as ambiguity, generality, open texture, and family resemblance concepts. There is a vast literature that discusses the logical, semantic, pragmatic, and epistemic aspects of these phenomena. Legal theory has hitherto paid little attention to the differences between the various kinds of linguistic indeterminacy that are grouped under the heading of ‘vagueness’, let alone to the various theories that try to account for these phenomena. Bringing together leading scholars working on the topic of vagueness in philosophy and in law, this book fosters a dialogue between philosophers and legal scholars by examining how philosophers conceive legal ambiguity from their theoretical perspective and how legal theorists make use of philosophical theories of vagueness. The chapters of the book are organized into three parts. The first part addresses the import of different theories of vagueness for the law, referring to a wide range of theories from supervaluationist to contextualist and semantic realist accounts in order to address the question of whether the law can learn from engaging with philosophical discussions of vagueness. The second part of the book examines different vagueness phenomena. The contributions suggest that paying greater attention to these phenomena can make lawyers aware of specific issues and solutions as yet overlooked. The third part deals with the pragmatic aspects of vagueness in law and with the professional, political, and moral issues to which such vagueness gives rise.
Keywords vagueness in law  legal indeterminacy  legal interpretation
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Reprint years 2016, 2017
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ISBN(s) 9780198782889   0198782888
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Vagueness.Roy Sorensen - 1997 - In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University.
Theories of Vagueness and Theories of Law.Alex Silk - 2019 - Legal Theory 25 (2):132-152.

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