Rules and Cases for Legal Reasoning: Notes on Some Neglected Aspects

Anne v.d.L. Gardner

Rules and cases arc essential elements in legal reasoning, but computational models have barely begun to reflect the complexities of their roles. Based on experience with a real case, this paper idcntifics four areas that deserve attention from anyone concerned with understanding the processes of a general legal reasoner. These are (1) combining rules that were adopted for differing purposes but that all have application to the problem at hand; (2) allowing for argument over the logical structure of rules, and managing to reason with them even when unsure what the logical structure is; (3) allowing cases to be used mainly lbr their facts and outcome, mainly for their reasoning, or mainly tbr the rules they lay down, and employing each technique when appropriate; and (4) extending the legal sources that are treated cases. The paper does not propose solutions but merely attempts, by way of cxamplcs, to suggest significant research areas.

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