Logic and Legal Realism
in Dieter Krimphove & Florian Simon (eds.), Research Handbook in Law and Logic 81-94 (Duncker & Humblot 2017)
William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-395
15 Pages Posted: 23 May 2019 Last revised: 22 Jan 2023
Date Written: 2017
According to the prevailing reading, the American legal realists believed that reliance on logic in legal reasoning is mistaken and that many traditional jurists succumbed to this mistake. But the prevailing reading is wrong. The set of loosely-related errors to which the realists thought traditional jurists succumbed did not concern reliance on logic.
Sometimes the realists’ target was the traditionalists’ misguided faith in the law’s rational determinacy. Sometimes it was the traditionalists’ commitment to categorical legal rules, when legal reasoning was in fact a matter of contextualized balancing. Sometimes it was their failure to recognize the consequences of judicial supremacy or the role of courts in establishing the facts of a case. And sometimes it was the traditionalists’ misguided theory of political obligation: their belief that the existence of law necessarily entailed justified reasons for obedience.
Keywords: Legal Realism, Logic, Syllogistic Reasoning, Philosophy of Law, Legal History
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation