Vagueness and the Law: Philosophical and Legal Perspectives

Hardcover | December 17, 2016

EditorGeert Keil, Ralf Poscher

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Vague expressions are omnipresent in natural language. As such, their use in legal texts is virtually inevitable. If a law contains vague terms, the question whether it applies to a particular case often lacks a clear answer. One of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law is legalcertainty. The determinacy of the law enables people to use it as a guide and places judges in the position to decide impartially. Vagueness poses a threat to these ideals. In borderline cases, the law seems to be indeterminate and thus incapable of serving its core rule of law value.In the philosophy of language, vagueness has become one of the hottest topics of the last two decades. Linguists and philosophers have investigated what distinguishes "soritical " vagueness from other kinds of linguistic indeterminacy, such as ambiguity, generality, open texture, and familyresemblance concepts. There is a vast literature that discusses the logical, semantic, pragmatic, and epistemic aspects of these phenomena. Legal theory has hitherto paid little attention to the differences between the various kinds of linguistic indeterminacy that are grouped under the heading of"vagueness ", let alone to the various theories that try to account for these phenomena.Bringing together leading scholars working on the topic of vagueness in philosophy and in law, this book fosters a dialogue between philosophers and legal scholars by examining how philosophers conceive vagueness in law from their theoretical perspective and how legal theorists make use ofphilosophical theories of vagueness. The chapters of the book are organized into three parts. The first part addresses the import of different theories of vagueness for the law, referring to a wide range of theories from supervaluationist to contextualist and semantic realist accounts in order toaddress the question of whether the law can learn from engaging with philosophical discussions of vagueness. The second part of the book examines different vagueness phenomena. The contributions in part 2 suggest that the greater awareness to different vagueness phenomena can make lawyers aware ofspecific issues and solutions so far overlooked. The third part deals with the pragmatic aspects of vagueness in law, providing answers to the question of how to deal with vagueness in law and with the professional, political, moral, and ethical issues such vagueness gives rise to.

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Vague expressions are omnipresent in natural language. As such, their use in legal texts is virtually inevitable. If a law contains vague terms, the question whether it applies to a particular case often lacks a clear answer. One of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law is legalcertainty. The determinacy of the law enables people ...

Prof. Dr. Ralf Poscher is director of the Institute for Philosophy of Law at Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg and managing director of the Centre for Security and Society of the University of Freiburg. Prof. Poscher has been a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence (2013), a guest researcher...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:350 pagesPublished:December 17, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198782888

ISBN - 13:9780198782889

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Table of Contents

IntroductionRalf Poscher and Geert Keil: Part I: Theories of Vagueness and Their Impact on Jurisprudence1. Stephen Schiffer: Philosophical and Jurisprudential Issues of Vagueness2. Diana Raffman: Vagueness in Law: Placing the Blame Where It's Due3. Ralf Poscher: An Intentionalist Account of Vagueness: A Legal Perspective4. Hrafn Asgeirsson: Can Legal Practice Adjudicate Between Theories of Vagueness?5. Michael S. Moore: Semantics, Metaphysics, and Objectivity in the LawPart II: Vagueness Phenomena in Law6. Andrei Marmor: Pragmatic Vagueness in Statutory Law7. Frederick Schauer: Second-Order Vagueness in the Law8. Marc Andree Weber: The Non-Conservativeness of Legal Definitions9. Nikola Kompa: The Role of Vagueness and Context Sensitivity in Legal InterpretationPart III: Dealing with Vagueness in Law10. Lawrence M. Solan: Why It Is So Difficult to Resolve Vagueness in Legal Interpretation11. Brian Bix: Vagueness and Political Choice in Law12. Leo Katz: Non-Epistemic Uncertainty and the Problem of Legal Line-Drawing13. Adam Kolber: Smoothing Vague Laws14. Roy Sorensen: How Vagueness Makes Judges Lie15. Jeremy Waldron: Clarity, Thoughtfulness, and the Rule of Law