The Law is a Fractal: The Attempt to Anticipate Everything

33 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2012 Last revised: 2 Jan 2014

See all articles by Andrew Stumpff Morrison

Andrew Stumpff Morrison

University of Michigan Law School; University of Alabama Law School

Date Written: March 1, 2013


Define an inappropriate rule as a rule that, if followed literally, would in at least some cases produce results that can be concluded with reasonable certainty to have been unintended by and unacceptable to even the rule’s author. Even under this definition, it is impossible for a rule writer to write an appropriate and objective rule to cover every situation in advance. Rule-writers nonetheless act today as though they were unaware of this long-acknowledged impossibility of perfect advance enumeration, and their persistent attempts to achieve it have imposed enormous, under-recognized costs on regulated populations.

Keywords: jurisprudence, fractal, vehicles in the park, open texture, determinacy, penumbra, vagueness, specificity, complexity, rule style, tax law, employee benefits, pensions, legal realism, positivism, formalism, textualism, legal philosophy

JEL Classification: K40, K20, H20, I18, K34, J26

Suggested Citation

Morrison, Andrew Stumpff, The Law is a Fractal: The Attempt to Anticipate Everything (March 1, 2013). 44 Loyola University Chicago L.J. 649 (2013), U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper, No. 292, Available at SSRN:

Andrew Stumpff Morrison (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

University of Alabama Law School

101 Paul W. Bryant Dr.
Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

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