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Weighing Reasons$
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Errol Lord and Barry Maguire

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199315192

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199315192.001.0001

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Reasoning with Precedents as Constrained Natural Reasoning

Reasoning with Precedents as Constrained Natural Reasoning

Chapter:
(p.193) 10 Reasoning with Precedents as Constrained Natural Reasoning
Source:
Weighing Reasons
Author(s):

John Horty

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199315192.003.0010

This chapter develops a picture according to which decision making in the common law is entirely guided by reasons rather than rules, and differs from ordinary decision making only to the extent that a common law reasoner, conforming to the requirements of precedent, must adapt his or her own weighting, or priority ordering, on reasons so that it coheres with a priority ordering derived from a background case base. Common law reasoning is thus cast as a form of constrained natural reasoning, in which precedent cases are treated as reasons for altering the weights, or priorities, that would normally be assigned to other reasons.

Keywords:   common law, precedent, reasons, weights, priorities

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