Language, Logic, and Law: Death of Reason or Dearth of Reasons?

24 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2009

Date Written: July 3, 2009


This article outlines a theory of language logic and law. First, it presents a theory of truth as a correspondence between a material fact and a description of that fact. Binary logic is then examined and determined inadequate to represent legal decision making because not all statements are true or false, only. Some statements are unknown or unknowable. The paper develops the basic functors for a ternary logic in order to resolve the paradox of material implication, to give legal theory adequate representational tools for exact modelling and critique of the law. That is a truly innovative and unique contribution of this article to the science of logic. The paper then looks to normative inferencing and argues that normative inferencing is possible using ordinary logical methods: implication, analogy, etc.

After developing these theories of truth and logic, a theory of language is developed. Language is not inevitably indeterminate because statements are ultimately reflections of and refractions from material facts. All three inquiries lead to the conclusion that the radical critique of legal reasoning (the 'death of reason critique') is not well founded. Legal science is possible because language is not inevitably indeterminate and truth exists and is knowable. Legal science in turn can be used to shape substantive justice. Critical jurists can and should take up scientificity as a key to effective legal reform.

Keywords: death of reason, logic, inferencing, epistemology, semiotics, legal theory, Duncan, Kennedy, cls, critique, materialism

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Engle, Eric, Language, Logic, and Law: Death of Reason or Dearth of Reasons? (July 3, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

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