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Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory$
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Neil MacCormick

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198763840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198763840.001.0001

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The Requirement of ‘Coherence’: Principles and Analogies

The Requirement of ‘Coherence’: Principles and Analogies

(p.152) VII The Requirement of ‘Coherence’: Principles and Analogies
Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory

Neil MacCormick

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides more extended consideration to the place of arguments from general principles of law in legal reasoning. It has been suggested that the place of such arguments depends on a postulated requirement of ‘coherence’ in the law; ‘coherence’ in the sense that the multitudinous rules of a developed legal system should ‘make sense’ when taken together. It has also been proposed that it is a limiting requirement of legal justification that decisions in cases not covered by mandatory rules must be shown to be supported by some general legal principle, or by some relevant analogy or other ‘persuasive’ legal source. It may be thought that the discussion of the use of general legal principles in legal argument has failed fully to account for their importance.

Keywords:   coherence, general legal principles, legal reasoning, legal justification

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