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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2009 x Rubriek Artikel x
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Commentaar op het preadvies van Carel Smith

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 3 2009
Trefwoorden law and hermeneutics, law and normativity, one right answer thesis, legal jurisprudence, legal doctrine
Auteurs Prof. dr. Arend Soeteman
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article is a comment on Carel Smith’s paper. Smith rightly argues that the study of law has a hermeneutic character. But his interpretation of legal hermeneutics includes the thesis that in hard cases there is no right or true legal decision. This seems to have negative implications for the scholarly character of the study of law: in hard cases any solution goes. This paper argues, against Smith, that the study of law defends right answers for hard cases. It is also normative in another sense: legal answers, in easy cases as well as in hard cases, always presuppose a normative interpretation of the legal sources. This contributes to the differences of opinion under lawyers. But it is no obstacle to the scholarly character of the study of law, as long as a rational debate about these legal answers and the underlying values and principles is possible. Smith’s rejection of the right answer thesis, however, prevents the possibility of such a rational debate.


Prof. dr. Arend Soeteman
Arend Soeteman is professor at the Faculty of Law, VU University Amsterdam.
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