The Myth of the Law-Fact Distinction

41 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2017

Date Written: 2003


We consider and reject the idea that there is an ontological, epistemological, or analytical distinction between questions of law and questions of fact. Rather, we contend that the labels “law” and “fact” refer to the allocation of decision-making authority for pragmatic reasons. This allocation is driven by three factors: (1) the judge-jury relationship, (2) standard conventions concerning the meaning of “law” and “fact,” and (3) a distinction between matters of general import and highly specific and localized phenomena.

Keywords: questions of law, questions of fact, punitive damaages, constitutional facts, Seventh Amendment, First Amendment, contracts, torts, patents, appellate review, juries, judicial notice, criminal procedure

Suggested Citation

Allen, Ronald Jay and Pardo, Michael S., The Myth of the Law-Fact Distinction (2003). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 97, 2003; U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2925903. Available at SSRN:

Ronald Jay Allen

Northwestern University Law School ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8372 (Phone)
312-503-2035 (Fax)

Michael S. Pardo (Contact Author)

University of Alabama School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics