Reasoning by Precedent—Between Rules and Analogies

Legal Theory 24 (3):216-254 (2018)
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This paper investigates the process of reasoning through which a judge determines whether a precedent-case gives her a binding reason to follow in her present-case. I review the objections that have been raised against the two main accounts of reasoning by precedent: the rule-account and the analogy-account. I argue that both accounts can be made viable by amending them to meet the objections. Nonetheless, I believe that there is an argument for preferring accounts that integrate analogical reasoning: any account of reasoning by precedent that is descriptively minimally adequate will leave some room for judicial discretion. Discretion should be used under consideration of the best legally relevant arguments for and against a decision. Integrating analogical reasoning helps the judge to bring to her own attention the strongest case for following. Analogical reasoning also eases the recognition of possible reasons for distinguishing. Thereby, it facilitates a more balanced decision-making process.



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Katharina Stevens
University of Lethbridge

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References found in this work

Authority, Law and Morality.Joseph Raz - 1985 - The Monist 68 (3):295-324.
Argument by Analogy.André Juthe - 2005 - Argumentation 19 (1):1-27.
A factor-based definition of precedential constraint.John F. Horty & Trevor J. M. Bench-Capon - 2012 - Artificial Intelligence and Law 20 (2):181-214.

View all 15 references / Add more references