Strategic Indeterminacy in the Law

Strategic Indeterminacy in the Law

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Though indeterminacy in legal texts is pervasive, there is a widespread misunderstanding about what indeterminacy is, particularly as it pertains to law. Legal texts present unique challenges insofar as they address a heterogeneous audience, are applied in a variety of unforeseeable circumstances and must, at the same time, lay down clear and unambiguous standards. Sometimes they fail to do so, however, either by accident or by intention. While many have claimed that
indeterminacy facilitates flexibility and can be strategically used, few have recognized that there are more forms of indeterminacy than vagueness and ambiguity. A comprehensive account of legal indeterminacy is thus called for.

David Lanius here answers that call and in so doing, addresses three central questions about the role of indeterminacy in the law. First, what are the sources of indeterminacy in law? Second, what effects do the different forms of indeterminacy have? Third, how can and should these forms be intentionally used? Based on a thorough examination of the advantages and disadvantages of the different forms of indeterminacy in the wording of laws, contracts, and verdicts, Lanius argues for the claim
that semantic vagueness is less relevant than commonly supposed in the debate, while other forms of indeterminacy (in particular, polysemy and standard-relativity) are mistakenly underrated or even ignored. This misconception is due to a systematic confusion between semantic vagueness and these other
forms of indeterminacy. Once it is resolved, the value and functions of linguistic indeterminacy in the law can be clearly shown.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 164 x 243 x 28mm | 616g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0190923695
  • 9780190923693
  • 90,713

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Forms of Indeterminacy
Chapter 2: Language and the Law
Chapter 3: Indeterminacy in the Law
Chapter 4: Functions of Indeterminacy
Chapter 5: Strategic Indeterminacy in the Law
Summary and Conclusion
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Review quote

David Lanius's Strategic Indeterminacy in the Law contains a terrifically clear and rigorous discussion of indeterminacy and its relevance to law. Lanius offers a systematic, clarificatory overview of the relevant fundamental notions, persuasively examines existing arguments, and provides interesting positive arguments for the strategic value of legal indeterminacy * Hrafn Asgeirsson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Law, University of Surrey * A philosophically sophisticated work that breaks new ground in our understanding of indeterminacy in law. This book should be read by lawyers and legal philosophers alike. It is as accessible as it is insightful * Dennis Patterson, Board of Governors Professor of Law and Philosophy, Rutgers University and Surrey Law School * Strategic Indeterminacy in the Law is a careful and comprehensive guide to the many kinds of indeterminacy in the law, how law responds to indeterminacy, and why courts and lawmakers sometimes intentionally seek indeterminacy. It will be an important resource forcourts and scholars alike * Brian Bix, Frederick W. Thomas, Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Minnesota *
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About David Lanius

David Lanius is Post-Doctoral Researcher at DebateLab of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. He works on strategic indeterminacy in the law and politics, constructive discourse, argument analysis, fake news, and populism.
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