The Three Faces of Defeasibility in the Law

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In this paper we will analyse the issue of defeasibility in the law, taking into account research carried out in philosophy, artificial intelligence and legal theory. We will adopt a very general idea of legal defeasibility, in which we will include all different ways in which certain legal conclusions may need to be abandoned, though no mistake was made in deriving them. We will argue that defeasibility in the law involves three different aspects, which we will call inference-based defeasibility, process-based defeasibility, and theory-based defeasibility. Only the integration of these three perspectives allows us to provide a satisfactory account of the role of defeasibility in legal reasoning.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands 2: Cirsfid University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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