Reasoning by Consequences: Applying Different Argumentation Structures to the Analysis of Consequentialist Reasoning in Judicial Decisions

  • Flavia CarbonellEmail author
Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 102)


Out of the different theoretical proposals involved in setting directives and constructing models for rationally controlling judicial decisions, some proposals pay particular attention to consequentialist arguments. This paper analyses the diverse approaches to consequentialist arguments given by MacCormick’s theory, Wróblewski’s theory and Feteris’s pragma-dialectical theory, with the purpose of, firstly, comparing, at theoretical level, the strengths and weaknesses when arguing by consequences is at stake. For testing the scope of the proposals, the paper will, secondly, use the selected theories in a study of the consequentialist arguments used by a ruling of the Chilean Constitutional Court. The theoretical comparison, together with the outcomes to which the analysis of judicial argumentation leads, will shed light on the capacity and efficacy of these tools in guiding the rational construction and evaluation of judicial reasoning.


Legal System Legal Consequence Legal Order Judicial Decision Legal Decision 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aarnio, A. 1987. The rational as reasonable. A treatise on legal justification. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  2. Bell, J. 1983. Policy arguments in judicial decisions. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  3. Bengoetxea, J. 1993a. The legal reasoning of the European Court of Justice. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  4. Bengoetxea, J. 1993b. Una defensa del consecuencialismo en el Derecho. Telos (Revista latinoamericana de estudios utilitaristas) II(2): 31–68.Google Scholar
  5. Cserne, P. 2012. Consequence-based arguments in legal reasoning: A jurisprudential preface to law and economics. In Efficiency, sustainability, and justice to future generations, ed. K. Mathis, 31–54. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  6. Dworkin, R. 1986. Law’s empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Feteris, E. 2002. A pragma-dialectical approach of the analysis and evaluation of pragmatic argumentation in a legal context. Argumentation 16: 349–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Feteris, E. 2005. The rational reconstruction of argumentation referring to consequences and purposes in the application of legal rules: A pragma-dialectical perspective. Argumentation 19: 459–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Feteris, E. 2008. The rational reconstruction of weighing and balancing on the basis of teleological-evaluative considerations in the justification of judicial decisions. Ratio Juris 21(4): 481–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. García Amado, J.A. 1986. Del método jurídico a las teorías de la argumentación. Anuario de Filosofía del Derecho III: 151–182.Google Scholar
  11. Gottlieb, G. 1968. The logic of choice. An investigation of the concept of rule and rationality. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.Google Scholar
  12. MacCormick, N. 1983. On legal decisions and their consequences: From Dewey to Dworkin. New York University Law Review 58(2): 239–258.Google Scholar
  13. MacCormick, N. 1997. Legal reasoning and legal theory. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  14. MacCormick, N. 2005. Rhetoric and the rule of Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Perelman, Ch. 1974. De la Justicia. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.Google Scholar
  16. Perelman, Ch. 1977. The idea of justice and the problem of argument. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  17. Perelman, Ch, and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca. 1969. The new rhetoric. A treatise on argumentation. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  18. Rudden, B. 1979. Consequences. Juridical Review 24: 193–201.Google Scholar
  19. Scheffler, S. (ed.). 1988. Consequentialism and its critics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Sinnot-Armstrong, W. 2006. Consequentialism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed 20 Nov 2011.
  21. Slote, M. 1992. Consequentialism. In Encyclopedia of ethics, ed. L.C. Becker and C.B. Becker, 211–214. New York/London: Garland.Google Scholar
  22. van Eemeren, F.H., and R. Grootendorst. 1992. Argumentation, communication and fallacies. A pragma-dialectical perspective. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  23. Walton, D. 1999. Historical origins of argumentum ad consequentiam. Argumentation 13: 251–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wróblewski, J. 1974. Legal syllogism and rationality of judicial decision. Rechtstheorie 1974: 33–46.Google Scholar
  25. Wróblewski, J. 1984. Justification through principles and justification through consequences. In Reason in law, ed. C. Farrali and E. Pattaro, 129–161. Milano: Giuffrè.Google Scholar
  26. Wróblewski, J. 1992. The judicial application of the law. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity Alberto HurtadoSantiagoChile

Personalised recommendations