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Coherence in Legal Justification

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Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI,volume 176)

Abstract

Coherence in reasoning is one important test of its soundness as reasoning. It is a test which is not fully satisfied by mere consistency, in the sense of an absence of self-contradiction. What I say may be free of any internal inconsistency and yet fail to ‘hang together’ or to ‘make sense’ as a whole. The task of this paper is to elucidate this elusive notion of ‘coherence’, of ‘hanging together’, of ‘making sense’. In the specific context of legal justification we find that it has two applications: to reasoning on matters of law, where what is in issue is ‘normative coherence’, and to drawing inferences of fact from evidentiary facts, where what is in issue is ‘narrative coherence’. I shall consider these two applications in that order.

Keywords

  • Noun Phrase
  • Legal Norm
  • Legal Reasoning
  • Phenomenal World
  • Explanatory Principle

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References

  1. On normative coherence, chiefly Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory (Oxford, 1978) chapters 7 and 8; on narrative coherence, id. chapter 4, pp.89–92, and also ‘The Coherence of a Case and the Reasonableness of Doubt’, Liverpool Law Rev., 2 (1980) pp.45–50.

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  2. Ruggero J.Aldisert, book review of Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory, Duquesne Law Rev. 20 (1982), pp.383–398 and, in general, cf. Aldisert J.’s opinion in Pfeifer, v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. 678 F 2d (1982) 453, esp. at 461.

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  3. Cf. Aulis Aarnio, On Legal Reasoning (Turku, 1977) pp.126–9.

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© 1984 D. Reidel Publishing Company

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MacCormick, N. (1984). Coherence in Legal Justification. In: Peczenik, A., Lindahl, L., Roermund, B.V. (eds) Theory of Legal Science. Synthese Library, vol 176. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-6481-5_19

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-6481-5_19

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-94-009-6483-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-94-009-6481-5

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