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Legal analysis

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Vanderbilt University Law School

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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 …


The Law And Large Numbers, Paul H. Edelman Jan 2002

The Law And Large Numbers, Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Can mathematics be used to inform legal analysis? This is not a ridiculous question. Law has certain superficial resem­blances to mathematics. One might view the Constitution and various statutes as providing "axioms" for a deductive legal sys­tem. From these axioms judges deduce "theorems" consisting of interpretation of these axioms in certain situations. Often these theorems are built on previously "proven" theorems, i.e. earlier decisions of the court. Of course some of the axioms might change, and occasionally a theorem that was once true becomes false; the former is a common feature of mathematics, the latter, though theoretically not possible in …