The Rule of Law and the Ideal of a Critical Discussion

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


The pragma-dialectical approach to legal argumentation conceives the justification of a judicial decision as part of a critical discussion. In this approach it is assumed that a legal argumentation theory should integrate descriptive and normative perspectives on argumentation. Legal discourse should be studied as a sample of normal verbal communication and interaction and it should at the same time, be measured against certain standards of reasonableness. This implies first a philosophical ideal of reasonableness, second a theoretical model for acceptable argumentation and third tools to analyze actual legal argumentation from the perspective of the model. Analyzing argumentation in judicial decisions from the ideal-perspective of a critical discussion is sometimes criticized. One of the main objections is that a judge does not have a standpoint in a critical discussion, but simply decides a case. As a result the critical norms for evaluating argumentation are not applicable to a legal decision. In this contribution I will try to refute these two objections by showing how the ideals of a critical discussion relate to the ideals of the Rule of Law and how these ideals function as starting points in analyzing and evaluating legal decisions, focusing on reconstructing standpoints.


Critical Discussion Legal Rule Propositional Content Judicial Decision Legal Argumentation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus School of LawErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamthe Netherlands

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