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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

(p.193) 10 Reasoning with Precedents as Constrained Natural Reasoning
Weighing Reasons

John Horty

Oxford University Press

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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