I am greatly indebted to many people who have helped me develop the ideas about coherence and law that are presented in this paper. Special thanks are due to Manuel Atienza, Scott Brewer, Noam Chomsky, Frederick Schauer, Robert Stalnaker, and Massimo La Torre. I am also grateful to Michal Araszkiewicz, Marcelo Ferrante, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This article presents in a succinct form the main claims about coherence in law that are defended in the book provisionally titled The Tapestry of Reason: An Inquiry into the Nature of Coherence and Its Role in Legal Argument, to appear in the European Academy of Legal Theory Series with Hart Publishing in 2012.
Legal Justification by Optimal Coherence*
Version of Record online: 8 AUG 2011
© 2011 The Author. Ratio Juris © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 24, Issue 3, pages 304–329, September 2011
How to Cite
AMAYA, A. (2011), Legal Justification by Optimal Coherence. Ratio Juris, 24: 304–329. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9337.2011.00486.x
- Issue online: 8 AUG 2011
- Version of Record online: 8 AUG 2011
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.