ssrn-id999552 - Reasoning with Rules J. Raz What is special...

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____________________________________________________reasoning with rules 09/05/2002 11:19 PM Reasoning with Rules J. Raz 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. Those of a moderately cynical temperament will not be surprised at the popularity of the ambitious view among lawyers. After all, the more special the law is the more justified are the high fees which make the law inaccessible to all but the rich in so many countries. However, we will not engage in such sociological ruminations. Whoever stands to gain or to lose from the existence or absence of special legal modes of reasoning, the only question to be explored here is whether there are such distinctive modes of reasoning. Not surprisingly, there is some truth in various rival positions. The most important point to make on the side of modesty is that the core of logic is not domain specific, nor could it be. Numerous arguments establish this point. I will sketch one. Rules of inference are not independent of rules of meaning, and of rules for the attribution of content to concepts and propositions. On the contrary, they are part of the factors that fix the meanings of terms and the content of concepts. The content of concepts is determined in part by the inferential relations that apply to them. That “a is green” entails “a is coloured” is part of what determines the meaning of “coloured” and of “green”. Therefore, if law, morality, physics and medicine, e.g., are each subject to different rules of logic then either they employ distinct terminology or use the same terms in different meanings. In fact while some terminology is special to different domains (for example, “quarks”, “resulting trust”) for the most part we use one and the
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2 same language in all domains, and it would be preposterous to suggest that the same words bear different meanings when used by doctors, lawyers, bus conductors, accountants, etc. However, not all modes of reasoning belong to the core of logic. Regarding the rest it is more plausible to assume that some differences between domains may exist. Much of what is often called “inductive reasoning” consists in following congeries of
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This note was uploaded on 10/24/2011 for the course SCIENCE PHY 453 taught by Professor Barnard during the Winter '11 term at BYU.

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ssrn-id999552 - Reasoning with Rules J. Raz What is special...

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