The Indeterminacy of Legal Rules
Posted: 3 Aug 2022
Date Written: July 30, 2022
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
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