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University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Jurisprudence

2015

Doctrinal indeterminacy

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Empirical Doctrine, Jessie Allen Jan 2015

Empirical Doctrine, Jessie Allen

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We can observe and measure how legal decision makers use formal legal authorities, but there is no way to empirically test the determinative capacity of legal doctrine itself. Yet, discussions of empirical studies of judicial behavior sometimes conflate judges’ attention to legal rules with legal rules determining outcomes. Doctrinal determinacy is not the same thing as legal predictability. The extent to which legal outcomes are predictable in given contexts is surely testable empirically. But the idea that doctrine’s capacity to produce or limit those outcomes can be measured empirically is fundamentally misguided. The problem is that to measure doctrinal determinacy, …