The Limits of Epistemic Legalism: A Reply

Posted: 11 Dec 2010 Last revised: 20 Mar 2012

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Date Written: December 25, 2009


The Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies has published a symposium on Law and the Limits of Reason (2009). In this reply to the commentators, I attempt to go beyond the book to clarify several critical issues. One is whether epistemic legalism, the book’s main target, is itself a theory of judicial legitimacy; I claim that it is. Another is the distinction between comparing the epistemic capacities of legislators and judges, on the one hand, and comparing the epistemic capacities of legislatures and courts, on the other. The first compares individuals, while the second compares groups. Conflating these two very different comparisons produces aggregation fallacies and analytic mistakes.

Suggested Citation

Vermeule, Adrian, The Limits of Epistemic Legalism: A Reply (December 25, 2009). Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies, Vol. 2, 2010; Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 10-48. Available at SSRN:

Adrian Vermeule (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts
Griswold 500
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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