The Argument from Counter-Example
Nicholas W. Barber
University of Oxford - Faculty of Law
January 30, 2012
Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2/2012
This paper considers a certain brand of argument commonly found in legal philosophy: the argument from counter-example. These arguments challenge an interpretation of an institution or principle by providing an instance that, it is claimed, is mistakenly excluded from, or included in, the account. It is contended that this type of argument can be less persuasive than it first seems, and the assumptions on which it depends are problematic. The paper connects the argument to the broader question of the significance of the common understanding of an institution or principle in its interpretation. It is contended that the common understanding is a constraint on such an interpretation, but only a limited one.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28working papers series
Date posted: February 1, 2012
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