On the Argumentum ad Absurdum in Statutory Interpretation: Its Uses and Normative Significance

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


The ad absurdum argument can be understood either as a strictly logical tool, which is equivalent to a proof by contradiction, or as a pragmatic argument about the desirability or undesirability of a given proposition. Yet, in legal reasoning lawyers tend to use it, at least in the vast majority of cases, only in the latter sense. The argumentum ad absurdum, as I will argue, can be classified as a special kind of pragmatic argument whose specific feature is its special argumentative strength in comparison with generic consequentialist argumentation. Once we are able to grant that premise, the paper intends to explain the most important rules of interpretation that may be used to determine the conditions under which the ad absurdum argument can be correctly deployed in legal reasoning.


Legal System Legal Norm Legal Reasoning Legal Argumentation Legal Interpretation 
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.



The author would like to thank Carlos Bernal Pulido, Matyas Bodig, Christian Dahlman, Eveline Feteris, Antonino Rotolo, Humberto Ávila and Henrike Jansen for the helpful comments and suggestions on a previous draft of this paper. Furthermore, he is indebted to the Foundation for the Development of the Research of the State of Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG – Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais), for funding part of the research that led to this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Legal Theory and Labour Law (DIT)Federal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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