25 Pages Posted: 16 May 2011

See all articles by Frederick Schauer

Frederick Schauer

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: May 9, 2011


This article on precedent, prepared as an entry for the forthcoming Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Law (Andrei Marmor, ed.), examines the main philosophical and jurisprudential issues involved with the concept of precedent and its role in legal reasoning and legal decision-making. Among the themes covered are the fundamental idea of a past decision being a reason just because of its existence, the distinction between precedential and analogical reasoning, the issues involved in determining which past decisions are precedents for which current ones, the relation between precedent and rules, and the normative and institutional design questions of when a system of precedential constraint is desirable and when it is not.

Keywords: precedent, analogy, legal reasoning, legal theory

Suggested Citation

Schauer, Frederick, Precedent (May 9, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Frederick Schauer (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-6777 (Phone)

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