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Peterson, Clayton and Marquis, Jean-Pierre (2016): Formal Philosophy and Legal Reasoning: The Validity of Legal Inferences. In: Logique et Analyse, No. 234: pp. 227-263

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The aim of the present paper is to introduce a method to test the validity of legal inferences. We begin by presenting the rationale of our method and then we expose the philosophical foundations of our analysis. If formal philosophy is to be of help to legal discourse, then it must first reflect upon the law's fundamental characteristics that should be taken into account. Our analysis shows that (Canadian) legal discourse possesses three fundamental characteristics which ought to be considered if one wants to represent the formal structure of legal arguments. These characteristics are the presupposed consistency of legal discourse, the fact that there is a hierarchy between norms and obligations to preserve this consistency and the fact that legal inferences are subjected to the principle of deontic consequences. We present a formal deontic logic which is built according to these characteristics and provide the completeness results. Finally, we present a semi-formal method (based on the proposed deontic logic) to test the validity of legal inferences. This paper contributes to the literature insofar as it provides a method that covers a portion of the intuitive validity of legal inferences which is not covered by other frameworks.

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