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The logical analysis of law as a bridge between legal philosophical traditions

Nunez, JE (2016) The logical analysis of law as a bridge between legal philosophical traditions. Jurisprudence, 7 (3). pp. 627-635. ISSN 2040-3321


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Applied for the first time by Von Wright, the term deontic logic refers to normative orders in three different ways, that is—in short—a prohibition, a permission, or an obligation. Traditionally, logic refers to true or false statements. Therein, and simply put, a conclusion will be true or false depending on whether the premises are true or false. Indeed, this has to do with propositions that are evidently descriptive. But there are other propositions that are non-descriptive and, amongst the latter, those that are prescriptive—i.e. they may state an obligation, a permission, or a prohibition. These non-descriptive propositions that are prescriptions are not capable of having “true” values in logic. Arguably, we may be able to establish logic inferences departing from descriptive prescriptions or, what in legal theory we may call norm-propositions. The legal discourse as part of one of these normative systems uses prescriptive language. Therein, deontic logic may be applied as an interpretative tool in order to better understand issues related to the semantic and syntactic use of legal norms or rules.

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