Law and Coherence

19 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2004

See all articles by Jaap Hage

Jaap Hage

Maastricht University - METRO Institute


This paper deals with the questions of whether the law should be coherent and what this coherence would amount to. In this connection so-called "integrated coherentism" is introduced. According to integrated coherentism, an acceptance set is coherent if and only if it contains everything that should rationally be accepted according to what else one accepts and does not contain anything that should rationally be rejected according to what else one accepts. Such an acceptance set is ideally a theory of everything, including, amongst others, standards for rational aceptance. On the assumption that the law, as a social phenomenon, is what the best theory about the law says it is, the law must be coherent, because the best theory of the law is part of an integratedly coherent theory of everything. This view is compatible with Raz's view that the law stems from different sources that need not be coherent in the sense that they consistently elaborate the same underlying principles or policies. Raz's view is not a consequence of integrated coherentism, however.

Suggested Citation

Hage, Jaap, Law and Coherence. Ratio Juris, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 87-105, March 2004. Available at SSRN:

Jaap Hage (Contact Author)

Maastricht University - METRO Institute ( email )

PO Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD

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