When Canadian Courts Cite the Major Philosophers: Who Cites Whom in Canadian Caselaw

31 Pages Posted: 26 May 2017 Last revised: 2 Aug 2017

See all articles by Nancy McCormack

Nancy McCormack

Queen's University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 20, 2017


This paper discusses the results of a search of Canadian case law from 1860 to 2016 to determine which major philosophers (born before 1900) were cited most and least often (or never), as well as which judges and courts cited them. The survey indicates that judges from every level of the Canadian courts have, over the years, made explicit references to major philosophic figures in their decisions. Many of the citations deal with eminently practical matters, but the courts have also thought it beneficial to call upon the philosophers for a variety of more strictly “philosophic” notions, for example, Thomas Aquinas on the doctrine of free will, and Bertrand Russell on logical constructions. Who cites whom and in what context and jurisdiction is set out in detail.

Keywords: Canada, courts, philosophers, judges, citations

Suggested Citation

McCormack, Nancy, When Canadian Courts Cite the Major Philosophers: Who Cites Whom in Canadian Caselaw (March 20, 2017). Queen's University Legal Research Paper No. 2017-090. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2973877 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2973877

Nancy McCormack (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

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