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Vagueness and Law – Philosophical and Legal Perspectives - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Vagueness and Law: Philosophical and Legal Perspectives

Geert Keil and Ralf Poscher


Vague expressions are omnipresent in natural language. If a law contains vague terms, the question whether it applies to a particular case often lacks a clear answer. This places the law at odds with rule-of-law values. One of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law is legal certainty. The determinacy of the law enables people to use it as a guide and it puts judges in a position to decide impartially. Vagueness poses a threat to these ideals. In borderline cases, the law seems to be indeterminate and thus incapable of serving its core rule of law value. In the philosophy of language, vague ... More

Keywords: borderline case, law and language, legal interpretation, legal methodology, linguistic indeterminacy, linguistics, philosophy of language, sorites paradox, theory of meaning, vagueness

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780198782889
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198782889.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Geert Keil, editor
Professor of Philosophy, Humboldt University Berlin

Ralf Poscher, editor
Director at the Institute for Philosophy of Law, Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg

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