The Relevance of Logic to the Legal System

Legal System, Logic and the Legal System, Logic, The Relevance of Logic to the Legal System

The Relevance of Logic to the Legal System

Introduction

It was Justice Holmes who said that “[t]he life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience.” On this basis and others, lawyers and judges across the world have downplayed the significance of formal logic in understanding law and legal reasoning leading to severe problems. Many legal scholars and practitioners have expressed concern that acknowledging logic as central to law would lead to a return to the rationalistic excesses of formalistic jurisprudence that dominated nineteenth-century legal thought. After all, Holmes wrote in opposition to the formalist tradition.

The realm of the law, and perhaps most notably the practice of legal judgment making within that domain, are exercises in practical reasoning. To be sure, law entails more than logic. However, the plethora of factors that contribute to good lawyering and fair judging suggest that the “life of the law,” while not solely based on logic, is a diverse set of activities that all use and rely on reason in different ways. The accuracy of information required in the design process of contractual agreements, wills, trusts, and other legal papers is a reasoned accuracy; the care required of court case solicitors in making plans and organizing how to present their cases is a rational care; and the skill in speaking and writing is a rational communication.

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Legal System, The Relevance of Logic to the Legal System, Legal System, Logic, Logic and the Legal System,

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