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Abstract

This paper examines the concept of coherence and its role in legal reasoning. First, it identifies some problem areas confronting coherence theories of legal reasoning about both disputed questions of fact and disputed questions of law. Second, with a view to solving these problems, it proposes a coherence model of legal reasoning. The main tenet of this coherence model is that a belief about the law and the facts under dispute is justified if it is “optimally coherent,” that is, if it is such that an epistemically responsible legal decision-maker would have accepted it as justified by virtue of its coherence in like circumstances. Last, looking beyond the coherence theory, the paper explores the implications of the version of legal coherentism proposed for a general theory of legal reasoning and rationality.