The Indeterminacy of Legal Rules

Posted: 3 Aug 2022

See all articles by Daniel Pi

Daniel Pi

University of Maine - School of Law

Date Written: July 30, 2022

Abstract

This Article demonstrates that the rules of any legal system are necessarily indeterminate. The argument consists of two theorems. The first theorem proves that legal rules cannot be determined by ostension. The second theorem proves that legal rules cannot be determined by description. Taken together, the two indeterminacy theorems establish that legal rules cannot constrain the outcomes of legal disputes. Therefore, any apparent regularities observed in legal decision-making must have causal sources outside of law. Several possible sources of such regularities—economic efficiency and political power most conspicuously—are considered.

Keywords: indeterminacy, formalism, realism

Suggested Citation

Pi, Daniel, The Indeterminacy of Legal Rules (July 30, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4176957

Daniel Pi (Contact Author)

University of Maine - School of Law ( email )

246 Deering Avenue
Portland, ME 04102
United States

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