Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Philosophical Foundations of Language in the Law$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Andrei Marmor and Scott Soames

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572380

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572380.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 26 January 2022

Vagueness and the Guidance of Action

Vagueness and the Guidance of Action

(p.58) 4 Vagueness and the Guidance of Action
Philosophical Foundations of Language in the Law

Jeremy Waldron

Oxford University Press

The Rule of Law should not always be construed as demanding determinacy and clarity at all costs; it should not necessarily be conceived as the rule of rules (as opposed, sometimes, to the rule of standards). The objection to standards is that, because they use predicates like ‘reasonable’ or ‘excessive’, they are therefore vague; they give relatively little guidance to those to whom they are addressed; and they leave the individual unclear about where she stands so far as the law' s application is concerned. And these are thought to be affronts to the Rule of Law. This chapter attempts to address those objections, using as a paradigm the ‘reasonable speed’ statute considered in State v. Schaeffer 96 Ohio St. 215; 117 N.E. 220 (1917). It argues that standards do provide guidance for action: they guide the use of our practical reasoning not just to apply a given rule but to figure out what kind of action is appropriate in varying circumstances. In that sense they are as respectful of our dignity and our capacity for agency as rules are (in their different way).

Keywords:   Fuller, Raz, Rule of Law, authority, clarity, dignity, language, rules, standards, traffic law

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .