in Vagueness in Law

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198268406
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191714795 | DOI:

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Law is very commonly vague, so that the requirements of the law in particular cases are frequently indeterminate. This is called the ‘indeterminacy claim’, which has implications for an understanding of law and of adjudication. While this book addresses the vagueness of language, it argues that vagueness, and resultant indeterminacies, are essential features of law. The indeterminacy claim is a threat to what is known as the ‘standard view of adjudication’: the view that the judge's task is just to give effect to the legal rights and duties of the parties. Legal theorists who take the standard view of adjudication have rejected the indeterminacy claim. This book addresses one characteristic mark of vagueness — the ‘tolerance principle’. It argues that an understanding of the tolerance principle, and of the sorites reasoning that it generates, raises an objection to some popular theories of law and of adjudication, and poses challenges that any theory of law or of adjudication must face.

Keywords: indeterminacy claim; theories of law; legal theory; adjudication; vagueness; tolerance principle; vague expressions

Chapter.  3105 words. 

Subjects: Civil Law

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