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Vanderbilt University Law School

Series

Legal analysis

2011

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Foundational Facts And Doctrinal Change, Suzanna Sherry Jan 2011

Foundational Facts And Doctrinal Change, Suzanna Sherry

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Doctrine is at the center of law and legal analysis. This Article argues that we have fundamentally misunderstood its nature. The conventional approach to legal doctrine focuses on theory and applications. What is the doctrine designed to do and how does it function? But many doctrines cannot be adequately understood or evaluated under the conventional model because they contain an additional, hidden element. They are built on foundational facts: potentially contested factual assumptions embedded in the doctrinal structure itself. Foundational facts are judges' generalized and invisible intuitions about how the world works. Whether a defendant acted in a particular way …