Form and Substance in Legal Reasoning: Two Conceptions

14 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2010

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 14, 2010


There are two possible ways to understand form and substance in legal reasoning. The first refers to the distinction between concepts and their applications, whereas the second concentrates on the difference between authoritative and non-authoritative reasons. These approaches refer to the formalistic and positivistic conceptions of the law, the latter being the author's point of departure. Nevertheless, they are both helpful means of analysis in legal interpretation. Interpretation is divided into formal and substantive justification. They have certain functions and they are utilized in interaction. Authoritative reasons and formal reasoning constitute the necessary point of departure. However, substantive reasons are also necessary in order to justify choices included in interpretation. In addition to formal and substantive reasoning, the role of legal concepts is analysed.

Suggested Citation

Niemi, Matti Ilmari, Form and Substance in Legal Reasoning: Two Conceptions (November 14, 2010). Ratio Juris, Vol. 23, Issue 4, pp. 479-492, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Matti Ilmari Niemi (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics