Julie Dickinson - Interpretation and Coherence in Legal Reasoning The subject of legal reasoning appears to occupy the more

practical end of the spectrum of jurisprudential theorising. Surely if anything matters in our attempts to understand law, it matters how judges do and/or should decide cases, and that we have an account which adequately explains and can perhaps be used to guide or justify their activities. The recent history of legal philosophy abounds with many and various attempts to address these issues and others which have been viewed as falling within the ambit of legal reasoning. Is legal reasoning an activity which is exclusive to the adjudicative institutions of legal systems or is any reasoning about the law to be regarded as legal reasoning, no matter where or by whom it is undertaken? Does legal reasoning take on a special character when it is undertaken in courts and by judges? Are there special methods or modes of reasoning which are unique to or at least distinctive of the law, or is legal reasoning just like reasoning in any other sphere of human activity, distinctive only in the subject matter to which it is applied? This last question is particularly relevant to present concerns, as it is one task of this entry to discuss various views concerning whether and to what extent interpretation and coherence have a special role to play in legal reasoning, because of the nature of law itself. After a brief clarificatory consideration of the ambit of the term, ‘legal reasoning’, the entry deals first with interpretation and then with coherence, and discusses various views concerning these concepts and their relevance for law. Throughout, the discussion focuses upon the role which interpretation and coherence play within legal reasoning, and the reasons why these concepts are regarded by some as being distinctive of reasoning about the law. •What Do Legal Theorists Mean By ‘Legal Reasoning’? •2. The Role of Interpretation in Legal Reasoning: ◦2.1 Some Intellectual Roots Considered ◦2.2 An Initial View of the Nature of Interpretation: Conservation and Creativity ◦2.3 Locating Interpretation in Legal Reasoning ◦2.4 Some Points of Disagreement ◦2.5 Interpretation: Desirable or Necessary? or Why Is Legal Reasoning Interpretive? •3. The Role of Coherence in Legal Reasoning: ◦3.1 What Constitutes Coherence? ◦3.2 Coherence of What? ◦3.3 Coherence in Legal Reasoning: Necessary, Sufficient or Desirable? ◦3.4 Why Should Coherence Play a Role in Legal Reasoning? ◦3.5 Coherence in Legal Reasoning: Global or Local? •Bibliography •Other Internet Resources •Related Entries What Do Legal Theorists Mean By ‘Legal Reasoning’? This may seem like an easy question, for surely legal reasoning is simply reasoning about the law, or about how judges should decide cases. On closer inspection, however, our ease may evaporate, for both of these formulations are ambiguous, at least according to some ways of thinking about the law. Some legal theorists regard the questions, ‘what is the law?’, and ‘how should judges decide cases?’ as distinct questions with distinct answers (see e.g. Hart 1994; Kelsen 1967; Raz 1979 & 1994). That is to say, their accounts of law and their accounts of adjudication are not one and the same, and they contend that in settling disputes which come before them, the remit of judges is wider than merely trying to establish what the law is as regards the issues in the case at hand. In adjudication, such theorists claim, extra-legal considerations can come into play, and judges may have discretion to modify existing law or to fill in gaps where existing law is indeterminate. This being so, for some legal theorists, the first formulation above, that legal reasoning is reasoning about the law, is ambiguous between: (a) reasoning to

g. most notably that of academic lawyers employing illdigested Wittgenstein to dubious ends. “how should a court decide a case. they will be mentioned in the text. For Dworkin. Smith 1990). renewed interest in the problems of linguistic indeterminacy in law seems to have stemmed at least in part from the resurgence in the last twenty years in scholarship addressing Wittgenstein's remarks on rule-following in the Philosophical Investigations (see e.g. have no intrinsic meaning and hence cannot. there may be others) which legal theorists could mean by legal reasoning: (a) reasoning to establish the existing content of the law on a given issue. legal reasoning in the sense given in (b) above) and the answer to the question. In other words. according to Dworkin. Where such differences have a bearing upon issues pertaining to the role of interpretation and coherence in legal reasoning. may sometimes come apart. 2.1 Some Intellectual Roots Considered Recent interest in the role of interpretation in legal reasoning springs from several sources. “how should a court decide a case. According to this line of thinking. This entry is concerned with legal reasoning in senses (a) and (b). most notably for present purposes Ronald Dworkin. is also ambiguous on some approaches to legal theory. Cornell 1992. 101–108. see various entries under nature of law in this volume. the second formulation of the ambit of legal reasoning given above. in and of themselves. but notes its adoption by various legal theorists). Marmor 2005. This possibility is also noted by Dworkin 1986. are criticised by Bix 1993). that legal reasoning is about how judges should decide cases. essay 14. section 3. Marmor 1992 and the revised edition of that work. judges never resort to extra-legal considerations in deciding cases according to law: all the considerations which they are entitled to take into account are part of the law. interpretation is where we should look in order to find the solution. There are thus three things (at least. the judge should not decide the case according to the law at all. reasoning to establish the content of the law (see Dworkin 1977 & 1986). i. or at least the only possible response. to the problem of linguistic indeterminacy in law which they perceive (in turn. Hart 1994. Raz 1994. This is because the answer to the question.e.e. all things considered. constrain legal reasoning. chapter 3. all things considered?”. and legal rules composed of words. interest in this topic stems from a wish to investigate the parallels and divergences between interpretation in law and interpretation in literature . all things considered. It should be noted that some legal theorists. they do no more than ascertain the content of the law and apply it to the facts of the case. The Role of Interpretation in Legal Reasoning: 2. and with sense (b) in particular. i. but rather should refuse to apply the law (see Hart 1958. This means that. (b) reasoning from the existing content of the law to the decision which a court should reach in a case involving that issue which comes before it. 1984 & 1985). and the migration of these concerns from philosophy of language into philosophy of law (see e. In the case of other theorists. Stone 1995 criticises this understanding of the role of interpretation in legal reasoning. and (c) reasoning about the decision which a court should reach in a case. Kripke 1982. Stone 1995.e. Holtzman & Leich (eds. chapter 9. then it must be we—readers or interpreters—who supply such meaning via the process of interpretation (see Fish 1989. Baker & Hacker. Moreover. what they are doing amounts to no more nor less than reasoning about the law in sense (a). For further discussion of the nature and limits of law. A particular instance might be the kind of situation which could arise for a judge in a ‘wicked’ legal system where the law on some issue is so morally odious that. Certain aspects of this trend. when judges reason about the law in sense (b). and (b) reasoning from that content to the decision which a court should reach in a case which comes before it. For some.) 1981. It should be noted that the discussion does not directly address the different accounts of the nature and limits of law which are revealed by those varying views mentioned above regarding what it is that judges do when they reason about the law in sense (b).establish the content of the law as it presently exists. in discussing whether the Nazis had law). do not carve up the questions and issues on this topic in the way outlined above. if words. reasoning from the existing law applicable to it?” (i. when judges decide a case according to law.

judges both seek to capture and be faithful to the content of the law as it currently exists.g. and of the role of interpretation within it (Marmor 1992 & 2005. because of its dualistic nature. The key to this issue lies in interpretation's dualistic nature. i. an interpretation of something is an interpretation of something—it presupposes that there is a something. i. and legal reasoning in sense (b). Levinson 1982) are to be understood as revisionist accounts which attempt to persuade us that all is not as it appears to be with our practice of judging interpretations to be good or bad. as characterised in subsection 2. Dworkin 1977). for example.e. namely an account of the nature of adjudication. an attempt not merely to reproduce but to make something of or bring something out of an original.e. as a result of the enactment of the Human Rights Acts 1998 in the United Kingdom with its section 3 duty to read and give effect to primary and subordinate legislation in a way which is compatible with European Convention rights. better or worse. Raz 1996b and 1996c).2 above. Marmor 2005 ch. or bring out something new in the law. Dworkin 1986. i. requiring European Union Member States' courts to interpret domestic law so that it is consistent with EU law. or an original. namely that interpretation is a Janus-faced concept. Kavanagh 2002.2 An Initial View of the Nature of Interpretation: Conservation and Creativity As might be expected. thus differentiating interpretation from pure invention—but it is also an interpretation of something. has a role to play in both legal reasoning in sense (a). and to supplement. 9. modify. better or worse.g. or as a result of the doctrine of consistent interpretation or indirect effect developed by the European Court of Justice.e.g. This dualism would seem to indicate that in interpreting the law. In turn. Raz 1996b). Rubenfeld 1998. that it has both a backward-looking conserving aspect and a forward-looking creative one. and a forward-looking creative one. this account seemed to rouse Dworkin's legal positivist adversaries into elaborating more fully upon something which he has always claimed has been seriously underdeveloped in their work (see e. encompassing both a backward-looking conserving component. (See e. Marmor 1992 & 2005. Raz 1996b & 1996c. Some theorists claim that such concerns about how one ought to interpret the law indicate that it is part of the way that we think about this practice that we regard rival interpretations as subject to objective evaluation as good or bad.(Levinson 1982. a surprising number of legal theorists agree—at least at an abstract level—about one central characteristic of interpretation. Dworkin 1985. Bobbit 1991 & 1996. On this view. reasoning to establish the existing content of the law on a given issue. Fish 1989). In some jurisdictions academic and public interest in interpretation in legal reasoning may have been sparked by changes in particular legal arrangements: for example. there to be interpreted. Recent scholarship in constitutional theory concerning the distinctive challenges posed by the interpretation of constitutions has also helped fuel continuing interest in the topic of interpretation in legal reasoning (see. 2. characterisations of interpretation which attempt to impugn the objectivity of such evaluations (e. with concomitant implications for the activities of both judges and legal theorists (see Dworkin 1986) also did much to contribute to interest in the role of interpretation in legal reasoning. and to which any valid interpretation must be faithful to some extent. 2. Endicott 1994. Sager 2004. Raz 1998b. namely . as a result of these different (although often intertwining) intellectual backgrounds and sources of interest in interpretation. fits into the discussion of the ambit of the term legal reasoning in the opening section of this entry.g. For all this. legal theorists approach this subject with very different questions and concerns to which they give concomitantly different answers. Moreover. correct or incorrect (Dworkin 1986.3 Locating Interpretation in Legal Reasoning It is important to consider how interpretation. In other words. and with the constraints which are and/or should be operative upon judges as they undertake this balancing act. Fiss 1982. in the course of reasoning from the content of the law to a decision in a particular case. this would seem to indicate that interpretation. Waluchow 2006 and the entry constitutionalism). The arrival on the jurisprudential scene in the mid-1980s of Ronald Dworkin's powerful new account of law as an interpretive concept. so far as it is possible to do so. however.) Much jurisprudential writing on interpretation in legal reasoning is concerned with how to strike the right balance between the conserving and creative elements in interpretation. Raz 1996a & 1996b). correct or incorrect as we currently understand it (see e. 2003 & 2009 part I. Raz 1995.

as understood by certain legal positivists. According to Raz. 2. and that there are gaps in the law. differ regarding the following matters (n. authoritative legal decisions?. certain aspects of legal practice?. This point may assist Raz in defusing some of the criticisms which have been levelled at the legal positivist approach to legal reasoning such as that positivism's account is phenomenologically inaccurate because when we examine cases.2 and 2.5 below). is a tenable or coherent one. one to establish whether any legal rules bear upon the problem at hand. and the fact that courts always seem to be able to decide cases by interpreting the law may also seem to cast doubt on the idea that the law is incomplete. is Joseph Raz (see Raz 1996a and 1996b). He reaches this conclusion as a result of his view that law is an institutionalised normative system wherein the institutions concerned operate by issuing purportedly authoritative directives concerning what ought to be done. we do not find two distinct stages to judicial reasoning. contra Hart and Raz. (See further the discussion of Raz's views in subsection 2. and it is. As Raz himself notes. ‘imposing purpose on an object or practice in order to make of it the best possible example of the form or genre to which it is taken to belong. Judges do not first of all engage in legal reasoning in sense (a). and his counter-claim. this ‘straddling the divide’ approach may in fact seem to undermine the very ideas that there is a tenable distinction between legal reasoning in senses (a) and (b). One legal theorist who adopts exactly this approach.g. therefore. then. and one wherein judges effectively legislate to fill in the gaps when the legal rules ‘run out’ (see e.4 Some Points of Disagreement Legal theorists disagree about the proper characterisation of many aspects of the schematic account of the interpretive process given in subsections 2. and in the Janus-faced nature of interpretation may thus form part of the background which has led legal theorists like Dworkin to deny that the distinction between identifying existing law. having established what the existing law is and determined how far it can take them in resolving the instant case. Interest in the pervasiveness of interpretation in legal reasoning. The process of ‘constructive interpretation’ (Dworkin 1986. several of the following points overlap to some extent): (1) What exactly is the original or object which is being interpreted in the case of law: the law as a whole?. judicial decisions?. the central role which authority plays in law means that when we come to interpret the law. having recourse only to legal materials. Moreover. That interpretation appears to operate at every stage in the legal reasoning process may also have influenced Dworkin's denial that there are gaps in the law. Dworkin appears to settle for . the decisions of those institutions which constitute the originals to be interpreted in the case of law. Accounts of the role of interpretation in legal reasoning.’ (Dworkin 1986. This stance can be contrasted with that adopted by Ronald Dworkin. what we are primarily seeking to do is to establish the existence and meaning of any purportedly authoritative directives of legal institutions. Interpretation appears to blur or even erase the line between the separate law-finding and law-creating roles which many legal positivists ascribe to judges. and developing and changing the law. in the case of legal interpretation.reasoning from the existing content of the law to the decision which a court should reach in a case involving that issue which comes before it. and developing and modifying the law. the fact that interpretation has a role to play in both of these activities assists in explaining why we do not find a two-stage or clearly bifurcated approach to legal reasoning in judicial decisions. and so views interpretation in legal reasoning as ‘straddling the divide’ between identifying existing law. A few of these disagreements will be surveyed here in order to give a fuller picture of some of the issues and views which are relevant to this topic. and hence that judges sometimes have to reach outside of the law in the adjudication process. Dworkin 1977 & 1986). then. statutes?. then move on to a separate stage of legal reasoning in sense (b) which requires them to look to extra-legal materials in order to complete the job. and then. legal texts? Raz 1996b claims that the primary objects of interpretation are the decisions of legal authorities. however (especially in Raz 1996b).3 above. that everything which a judge is entitled to rely on in deciding a case is already part of the law (see Dworkin 1986). p52). because much of their reasoning is interpretive and interpretation straddles the divide between legal reasoning in senses (a) and (b). and see also the entry interpretivist theories of law) which plays such a central role in Dworkin's jurisprudential thought involves interpreters.b. According to Raz.

we interpret in order to establish whether any authoritative legal directives are currently in force and bear upon the legal issue at hand. ‘disciplining rules’ in the form of those standards which are constitutive of the profession of judging supply constraints upon judicial interpretation which supplement the rules of language which already constrain all language users in their attempts to understand texts. we find accounts such as ‘originalism’ in US constitutional interpretation which claims that in interpreting a particular provision of the Constitution. our interpretations are the right ones when they accord sufficiently with those of our similarly situated fellow interpreters (see e. the creative elements in interpretation? At the conserving extreme. (3) Following on from point (2) above: how big a role does the requirement that judges must be faithful to an original play in constraining legal interpretation. Ronald Dworkin has recently addressed directly the topic of originalism in US Constitutional Interpretation and has argued that fidelity to the Constitution's text does not exhaust constitutional interpretation. thus preserving the separation of powers and structure of government in the form in which the founders of the US intended. As was noted at the end of subsection 2. ch.the argumentative social practice of law as the original to be interpreted (Dworkin 1986. judges should seek to establish the way in which the provision was originally understood by those who ratified it (see e. Dworkinian interpretation.2 above. some such views may wish to claim that our practice of accounting interpretations as good or bad.g. the object of legal interpretation appears to be broader than that adopted by Raz.’ (Baker and Hacker 1982. See for example Baker & Hacker 1984. due to radical and pervasive linguistic indeterminacy in the law. Some commentators have poured scorn on the idea that this sort of approach could yield standards of correctness worthy of the name. correct or incorrect is incoherent. correct or incorrect. and the section on Coherence in Legal Reasoning) might require interpreters to depart from the best interpretation of the constitutional text considered apart from the history of its enforcement (Dworkin 2006. then. Indeed. If such approaches wish to claim that there are standards by which we can judge interpretations to be better or worse. however. According to Bork 1990. One other possibility. According to Fiss. seems to have a more abstract and global feel to it. This being so. Kripke 1982 and those works discussed in point (3) below). ‘an unjustified stab in the dark is unobjectionable as long as it is made in good company. however. who contend that Kripke's position amounts to the view that. Levinson contends that all US constitutional interpretation is necessarily creative. and hence cannot supply constraints upon judicial interpretation. 87–88). judges are constrained both by the need to be faithful to the original legal text which they are interpreting. as the requirement that one be faithful to the meaning of an original seems to be obliterated on such views. then they must find such standards other than in the conserving aspect of interpretation. who contends that Fiss' ‘disciplining rules’ would themselves require interpretation in order for judges to know what they mean and require of them. For Raz. in the sense that it is the social practice of law as a whole (Dworkin 1986. Fish's contention that all potential candidates which might constrain interpretation are themselves susceptible to being interpreted in a variety of ways results in his claiming that texts or originals cannot constrain .5). Fiss' view is criticised by Stanley Fish (1989).g. and so we should look to the decisions establishing those directives in getting the interpretive process off the ground. as well as any data speaking to the point or purpose of legal practice in general. (2) How much emphasis is to be placed on the conserving vs. which constitutes the original to be interpreted. adherence to originalism in US constitutional interpretation is necessary to ensure that the judiciary confines itself to its proper sphere of authority. p63). 81–82). and are there any additional constraints which supplement the constraints generated by the need to be faithful to an original which guide judges as they interpret the law? For example. and by supplementary norms of interpretation which are constitutive of the judicial role (Fiss lists the requirement that judges must always consult history when interpreting the law as an example of a ‘disciplining rule’). Bork 1990). As close as possible conformity with those original intentions thus furnishes us with the standard of correctness in constitutional interpretation on this approach. for Owen Fiss (1982). Accounts such as that offered by Levinson (1982) are at the other end of the spectrum: they reject originalism and give far more weight to the role of innovation in legal interpretation. and that the search for constitutional integrity (see further point 6 below. is that the notion of ‘correctness’ can be salvaged by being pegged to the communal reactions of the relevant interpretive community. including the entire legal history of a given jurisdiction. for Dworkin.

nonetheless claim to provide us with criteria via which to distinguish good interpretations from bad. such that it is futile to attempt to construct a general theory which differentiates good interpretations from bad as regards the forward-looking aspect of interpretation. by imposing purpose upon it such as. Sunstein 1996 also warns against the kind of ‘highlevel theories’ which Dworkin instructs judges to construct and follow in deciding cases. Dancy 1993). by its very nature. theories which purport to tell us how to differentiate good interpretations from bad are also impossible because. essays 4.5 and 3. Dworkin's pro-theory stance has attracted criticism from a variety of quarters. p. Sunstein is suspicious of the value of such theorising on the grounds that.’ (Dworkin 1986. it is the aim of all legal interpretation to ‘constructively interpret’ the social practice of law. or to provide us with a general account of how to evaluate interpretations as good or bad. however. and to which they are always and already committed simply in virtue of their membership in the judicial interpretive community. ‘the meanings available to them have been preselected by their professional training. as texts do not have meanings in advance of particular interpretations of them.’ (Fish 1989. For Dworkin. for although Fish removes the constraints on interpretation provided by legal texts or supplementary norms of the judicial profession. and theories which. so far as possible. namely an account in the form of a theory which purports either to operate as a recipe for concocting good interpretations. Raz does believe that it is possible to have an account which explains certain aspects of the nature and role of interpretation in legal reasoning. because it may go . It should be noted. p21. In this he follows similar claims made by several contemporary moral philosophers. This seemingly radical indeterminacy is deceptive. and the entry interpretivist theories of law). on the assumption that they were created by a single author—the community personified’ (see subsections 2. (4) Whether or not it is possible to have a general theory of interpretation. e. i. he replaces them with the conditioning and training processes of ‘interpretive communities’. if followed correctly.judges at all in the way in which is commonly supposed. claims Raz. that while Dworkin's general theory of interpretation is designed to assist in guiding judges to the one right answer in a case which comes before them. criteria of evidence. According to Raz. what he doubts is that it is possible to have a certain kind of account of interpretation. p52).e. purposes and goals of a shared enterprise’. Fish (1989. Moreover. 133). by contrast.4. No electronic magician could design from my arguments a computer program that would supply a verdict everyone would accept once the facts of the case and the text of all past statutes and judicial decisions were put at the computer's disposal’ (Dworkin 1986. he claims that it is not recipe-like in the sense of providing judges with a detailed step by step programme for correct judicial decision-making: ‘I have not devised an algorithm for the courtroom. see further point (7) below). 412). does purport to offer judges a general theory of legal interpretation which they can use to guide their interpretive activities. will lead them to the ‘one right answer’ in the case before them (on Dworkin's ‘one right answer’ thesis. right or wrong (on this point see also Raz 2009 essay 12 section IX). such that. 5 and 16) claims that ‘law as integrity’ is not a theory which judges can use to guide their interpretive activities because it is a strategy which they cannot help but put into practice. Ronald Dworkin. Williams 1985. and so enable us to check the correctness of decisions which have been made. ‘…readers are already and always thinking within the norms. The more specific theory which he believes that judges should follow in fulfilling this task—‘law as integrity’— ‘instructs judges to identify legal rights and duties. theories of the former kind are impossible because morality (to which recourse must be had as regards the innovative aspect of legal interpretation) is not susceptible to explanation via ‘operational’ theories. which ensure that. Raz 1996a rejects the possibility of two types of general theories of interpretation: ‘operational’ or recipe-like theories which are designed to guide judges to the right decision in a case which comes before them.g..’ (Raz 1996a. ‘to make of it the best possible example of the form or genre to which it is taken to belong. however. ‘it takes too much time and may be unnecessary. and which. although they may not aim to guide judges to the correct decision. ‘theories which would enable a person whose moral understanding and judgement are suspect to come to the right moral conclusions regarding situations he may face by consulting the theory. standards. innovation defies generalisation. It should be noted that (as is apparent from the discussions in this entry as a whole).

1 above (see e. Fish 1989. as rules are capable of allowing agreement in the face of disagreement. Fish 1989. cannot have ‘normative reach. and reject interpretation as the fundamental determinant of meaning by denying that there is a gap which needs to be bridged between grasping a rule and understanding those actions which it requires.wrong insofar as it operates without close reference to actual cases. Those theorists who contend that interpretation is the fundamental determinant of the meaning of linguistic expressions often claim that such interpretation is necessary because legal rules expressed in language do not have determinate meanings and hence cannot determine their own correct application. in John McDowell's terminology. or agree on a ‘mid-level’ principle (see Sunstein 1996. a legal rule. Instead. In the minds of some legal theorists at least. following a certain reading of Wittgenstein's remarks on rulefollowing (namely the kind of reading offered by McDowell 1984 and Baker and Hacker 1985). Sunstein regards incompletely theorised agreements as vital to legal reasoning. and because general theorizing can seem or be disrespectful insofar as it forces people to contend. on some interpretation. Cornell 1992).’ (McDowell 1984 & 1992).g. and is the fundamental and inescapable determinant of meaning. Sunstein presents a strong case for the role of incompletely theorised agreements in law in general. . this denial usually proceeds via a non-sceptical reading of Wittgenstein's remarks on rule-following. For theorists like Marmor (1992 & 2005) and Stone (1995) who deny that interpretation is the fundamental determinant of the meaning of linguistic expressions. because it often prevents people from getting along at all. in accord with the rule’’. ‘all the way down’. Some theorists. to litigants. show adequate respect. over their deepest and most defining moral commitments. ‘a weak democratic pedigree and limited fact-finding capacity’ (Sunstein 1996. and to each other. interpretation is required in order to bridge the gap between the inert legal rule and the situations to which it applies. this point has strong links with with the issue of linguistic indeterminacy in law mentioned in subsection 2. (5) Whether or not interpretation is always of something which to some extent already has meaning.’ (Sunstein 1996. This being the case. 2005 & Stone 1995 deny that interpretation is the fundamental determinant of the meaning of linguistic expressions and contend that. in a way which does not require recourse to interpretation. and avoid error insofar as is possible. Such theorists seek to avoid linguistic indeterminacy. in the sense that sometimes judges can agree on outcomes to cases governed by a rule whilst disagreeing about the rule's justification (on this important function of legal rules see also Raz 2001). until we thought of yet another standing behind it. and contend that interpretation is all-pervasive. it seems that: ‘ ‘Whatever I do is. §198 and §201 respectively). for example. For these theorists. Cornell 1992 & Fish 1989 deny this. e. those rules. it must be possible for us to grasp the meaning of. Marmor 1992. p36) but disagree about both the general theory underlying it and particular cases falling under it. the pertinent issue then becomes: how do we know that one interpretation rather than another is in accordance with the rule.g. along the lines of that offered by McDowell 1984 and Baker and Hacker 1985. As was noted above. for example. p50). pointing out that the institution of such agreements is one of the most important social functions of legal rules. seem to embrace this potential infinite regress of alternative interpretations of rules (see also point (3) above) and attempt to avoid the radical linguistic indeterminacy which it seems to entail by replacing the standards of correctness demarcated by rules with the conditioning and training processes of interpretive communities. ‘…give one interpretation after another. Such agreements can occur where judges agree on the outcomes of individual cases even though they disagree on which general theory best accounts for those outcomes. make them fairly quickly. unnecessarily. so this line of thinking goes. if the rule itself cannot determine its own correct application? As Wittgenstein notes in his remarks on rule-following. legal texts. p6). such that we can. because they allow the diverse individuals who constitute the judiciary to agree on outcomes against the background of certain institutional constraints such as that they have. the Wittgensteinian challenge is seen as a kind of reductio ad absurdum which indicates that we have gone astray in our understanding of how rules operate. or agree on a general principle. in all cases. by themselves. Sunstein advocates a special role for ‘incompletely theorized agreements’ in judicial decision-making.’ (Wittgenstein 1967. must make many decisions. but not on what that principle requires in particular cases. as if each one contented us at least for a moment. or whether interpretation is the fundamental determinant of the meaning of linguistic expressions in.

1986. These considerations may also seem to speak mainly to the issue of how we are to go about interpreting aspects of the law. For example. The value of coherence in legal reasoning is addressed further in Section 3 of this entry. To assume otherwise. because of pervasive incommensurabilities in the criteria by reference to which we are supposed to adjudge one interpretation to be better than another. This being so. He would end differently because he would take leave of Hercules. According to Raz. we should not delude ourselves into dreaming of uniquely correct answers to issues of legal interpretation. he claims. do not directly address the important question of whether there is something about the nature of law which makes it either desirable or necessary that interpretation should play a role in legal reasoning in the first place. and how those values are to be balanced against one another. there are other features which legal interpretation necessarily exhibits.e. contra Dworkin. at some branching point sooner or later in the argument. 375). assigning a limited role to the intentions of legislators in the interpretation of legislation is one such necessary feature of legal interpretation. Raz 2009 contends that interpretive pluralism is a basic feature of the concept of interpretation as we understand it. for to do so commits us to. One debate on this issue is that between Dworkin (1986). we can consider the value of allowing the work of legal academics. While we can debate about the desirability of conventions of interpretation falling into the former category (e. however. the latter category of features leave us no room for manoeuvre: courts cannot help but have recourse to them in interpreting the law. that there can be several different and incompatible interpretations of the same object. 412). is to render unintelligible any possible justification for entrusting law-making powers to those institutions. In other words: why is legal reasoning interpretive at all? Raz 1996c contends that while some conventions of legal interpretation vary according to time and place. Such concerns. 2. following his own lights. they must do so such that the law thus interpreted reflects the intentions of those who made it. Raz contends.(6) Which values judges should attempt to realise in legal interpretation. when judges come to interpret the decisions of legislative institutions. another lawyer or judge who began in the same conception would find a different route and end in a different place. However. that while we should seek good answers and avoid bad ones.’ (Finnis 1987. as several of the judges in our sample cases did. all of which can be good. p.’ (Dworkin. and how we should understand their activities. We pay attention to the intentions of law-making institutions because it is important to establish which legal rules those institutions have laid down. p. (7) Whether interpretation in legal reasoning can lead judges to the ‘one right answer’ as regards the legal issue at hand. owing to the nature of law itself. In turn. and those who. Finnis argues. or records of Parliamentary debates to serve as aids to interpretation in a particular jurisdiction). like Raz (1994a).5 Interpretation: Desirable or Necessary? or Why Is Legal Reasoning Interpretive? The points of disagreement surveyed above speak to differing views regarding how judges should go about interpreting the law.g. although it should be noted that in Dworkin 1986 chapter 11 he makes the point that in a sense there can be different ‘right answers’ for different interpreters: ‘For every route that Hercules took from that general conception to a particular verdict. who champions the role of the value of integrity in interpreting the law. It is. it is important to establish the existence and meaning of legal rules laid down by law-making institutions because of law's purportedly authoritative . and Réaume (1989). Dworkin (1986 & 1991) remains firmly committed to the one right answer thesis. the reasons why it is important to pay attention to the intentions of law-making institutions when we interpret the law also furnish us with Raz's answer to the question of why legal reasoning is interpretive at all. doubt whether Dworkinian integrity is a value which should be pursued in legal interpretation. ‘utilitarianism's deepest and most flawed assumption: the assumption of the commensurability of basic goods and thus of the states of affairs which instantiate them. i. simply part of our way of thinking about legislative institutions that their procedures and modes of operation are designed so as to allow legislators to make the law which they intend to make. Finnis 1987 denies that it is possible for interpretation in legal reasoning to lead judges to one right answer in the sense claimed in Dworkin 1986. and what they mean.

He contends that an adequate account of these features of legal practice can only be gained when we understand that law is an interpretive concept. it is the authoritative nature of law which explains why legal reasoning is interpretive. the entry on interpretivist theories of law). as they do. the view that law is to be identified by reference to authoritative social sources yields a grossly inadequate account of the argumentative nature of legal practice. join the practice and make the same kind of interpretive claims concerning the point of the practice. Law.e. coherence theories. Rather than being based on the view that in ascertaining the content and meaning of the law.g. also. in light of its point. but has a purpose or point. long influential in other areas of philosophy (see. then. Dworkin's contention that legal reasoning is necessarily interpretive rests on an account of law which expressly repudiates the Razian understanding of law as source-based. ethics and justice. and the further assumption that the rules of the practice are not necessarily what they have always been taken to be. this point holds good for the activities of judges and legal theorists alike: anyone reasoning about the law is required to treat it as an interpretive social practice and offer interpretations of what it requires in light of the purpose or point which they assign to it. and. While this migration may be attributed in part to the frequent influence of the general philosophical climate upon the intellectual weather systems of jurisprudential theorising. unlike morality. According to Dworkin. it also makes sense to ask whether there is something about the nature of law which makes it particularly ripe for explanation via coherence accounts. we have a responsibility to try to establish the existence and meaning of any purportedly authoritatively binding legal rules which have a bearing on the situation under consideration. for example.e. Part of our task in reasoning about the law is thus to establish the existence and meaning of those directives. the entries on the coherence theory of truth and coherentist theories of epistemic justification) have more recently found their way into the philosophy of law (for a general survey of coherence theories in law which also considers them in the context of coherence theories of truth. then. and what the rules of it are in light of that point. in order to do so. For example. For Raz. The attitude in question comprises two components: the assumption that the practice does not merely exist. i. for example. Kress 1984. 3. those commentators who view Ronald Dworkin's theory of law as integrity as a coherence account appear to answer this question in the affirmative (see e. in the sense of interpreting the law as speaking with one voice as integrity requires. It has also been noted that features of the law such as the doctrine of . but rather are sensitive to. see Raz 1979 and the entry on legal positivism). It is interesting to compare Raz's stance on the reasons why legal reasoning is necessarily interpretive with Ronald Dworkin's views on this topic. and we do so by interpreting the decisions of law-making institutions in a way which accords with the intentions of those institutions in making the decisions in question. see Kress 1996). that it is a social practice wherein a certain interpretive attitude has taken hold. its point (Dworkin 1986 ch. from institutions issuing purportedly authoritative directives which claim to express a binding judgement about what ought to be done. is a value which is supposed to have special relevance in the legal realm. For Dworkin. the only way to understand it adequately is to do as the participants in that practice do: i. Raz 1994a). then. For Raz. and of the nature and depth of disagreement within it (see Dworkin 1986 ch. For Dworkin. In deciding cases according to law. we must interpret the decisions of law-making institutions in accordance with the intentions of the law-makers in order to try to establish the content and meaning of the law which they intended to make (see also Raz 1996a and 1996b). legal institutions claim to express binding and authoritative judgements regarding what ought to be done which are designed to allow people to better conform to reason if they follow the decisions of the authority than if they try to follow those other reasons which apply to them directly (see Raz 1994. ch. in terms of the role which it should play in guiding judges seeking to interpret the law correctly. Once the interpretive attitude has taken hold amongst the participants in a social practice. whereas. Marmor 1992. and can be revised in light of. moral reasoning is not. Hurley 1989): coherence. stems from social sources (on the role of social sources in understanding law. which dictate that legal reasoning is necessarily interpretive.nature.1).2.10). we should look to authoritative social sources. The Role of Coherence in Legal Reasoning: As several commentators have noted (see Kress 1984. justified belief. it is these features of the social practice of law: that members of that practice dispute and disagree about what the best interpretation of the rules of the practice are.

Raz 1994a also characterises coherence in law in terms of unity of principle. Such an approach raises many questions. but appear to assume that it will always be possible to establish which is the most coherent of rival sets of propositions. (6) reciprocal justification. MacCormick 1984. Alexy and Peczenik recognise that weighing and balancing the criteria of coherence will be a complex matter. (5) priority orders between reasons. and on examining the role which coherence plays in courts' reasoning about how to decide cases according to law. This being so. this part of the entry discusses legal reasoning in the sense outlined in formulation (b) in Section 1 ("What Do Legal Theorists Mean By ‘Legal Reasoning’?"). i.g. Marmor 1992 & 2005. 3. it is always possible to find the most coherent set of propositions according to the ten criteria. and list ten criteria by reference to which coherence thus defined can be evaluated (the criteria are: (1) the number of supportive relations. and what role does coherence play in explaining or justifying judicial decisions in such accounts? Amongst those legal theorists taking an interest in the role of coherence in legal reasoning. there is general agreement both that the coherence in question must amount to more than logical consistency amongst propositions (see Kress 1984.precedent. see Weinreb 2005. reasoning from the content of the existing law on a given issue to the decision which a court should reach in a case involving that issue which comes before it. On the role of arguments from analogy in legal reasoning more generally. arguments from analogy. Other writers have attempted to supply a more formal definition of. and whether it is always the case that the weighing operation will result in a complete ranking of given sets of propositions as either more or less coherent than each other. the idea of coherence as a special virtue of interpretation in legal reasoning plays an important role in the work of several major continental legal philosophers (see e. such as how these various criteria of coherence are to be weighed and balanced against each other. As this entry seeks to illuminate the role of coherence in legal reasoning. (3) the strength of the support. Raz 1994a notes the temptation here. and (10) diversity of fields of life to which the theory is applicable). Aarnio 1987. (See Kress 1984. contending that the coherence of a set of legal norms consists in their being related either in virtue of being the realisation of some common value or values. A further characterisation of the kind of coherence which is to be sought in legal reasoning may be found in Ronald Dworkin's work. for example. Peczenik 1989. but contends that there is nothing inherent in arguments from analogy or in the requirement that like cases be treated alike which demands that they be understood in terms of a coherence account of adjudication.e. a minimally coherent legal system (see Levenbook 1984). (2) the length of the supportive chains. Peczenik 1989. (8) conceptual cross-connections. so that when faced with competing such sets. and the requirement that like cases be treated alike seem particularly apt to be illuminated via some kind of coherence explanation.) Moreover.1 What Constitutes Coherence? Two central questions must be addressed in considering the role of coherence in legal reasoning: what is the nature of the coherence relation which features in coherence accounts of adjudication. or in virtue of fulfilling some common principle or principles. On his view. or otherwise to flesh out in a more detailed manner the criteria of coherence. (9) number of cases a theory covers. (4) the connections between supportive chains. Many writers regard Dworkin's account of integrity in adjudication as an example of a . the emphasis here is on coherence accounts of adjudication. Marmor 1992). Alexy & Peczenik 1990). the more unified the set of principles underlying those court decisions and legislative acts which make up the law. and also the entry precedent and analogy in legal reasoning. MacCormick 1984 views coherence in terms of unity of principle in a legal system. (7) generality. Alexy and Peczenik 1990 define coherence in terms of the degree of approximation to a perfect supportive structure exhibited by a set of propositions. Alexy 1989. the more coherent law is. Alexy & Peczenik 1990) and that it is not clear from many coherence accounts exactly what this something more amounts to (see Kress 1984. The following discussion attempts to explore some of these issues concerning whether and why considerations of coherence have an important role to play in understanding law.

and hold that courts ought to adopt that outcome to a case which is favoured by the most coherent set of propositions which. His suggestion in this regard is that coherence accounts in law take court decisions and legislative and regulatory acts as their base. The essential difference between them is the stage at which considerations of coherence come into play. then we should assume a coherence-independent test to identify the settled law of a jurisdiction first.2 Coherence of What? The next issues to consider are (1) what is to be made coherent in coherence accounts of legal reasoning. and hold law to be the set of principles that makes the most coherent sense of that base. and in his view. Kress 1984. in deciding a case according to law.) On this view. A coherence account of adjudication. accepts that the vagaries of politics and the influence of political considerations on legislative and judicial decisions make it unlikely that the settled law of a jurisdiction will exhibit coherence to any great extent. MacCormick 1984 espouses a similar view of the role which coherence can play in adjudication and gives an indication of how we might think of the links between interpretation and coherence in legal reasoning. they should then interpret law in applying it to a new case such that their decision is in accord with the most coherent account which justifies that settled law.3 Coherence in Legal Reasoning: Necessary. when applied to law. then. and then bring in considerations of coherence at a later stage. 3. coherence accounts of law cannot be person-relative in this way. once courts establish what the settled law is. Raz points out that while coherence accounts of justified belief take each person's belief set as their ‘base’ or as that which is to be made coherent. such that an account of the role of coherence in adjudication supplies us with a complete explanation of how judges should decide cases according to law? Or is coherence rather . the whole of what the law is is determined by applying a coherence test to those court decisions and legislative and regulatory acts of a given jurisdiction. Raz further distinguishes between coherence accounts of law and coherence accounts of adjudication. that law is objective in this way means that there must be a common base to which coherence accounts in law are addressed. and they should do this by showing how that branch of law is justified according to some coherent set of principles or values which underlie it. on pain of failing to offer an account which is in touch with the concrete reality of law in the jurisdiction under consideration. This being so. they should identify legal rights and duties on the basis that they were all created by a single author. (See Hurley 1989 & 1990. courts should first of all interpret the existing law in order to establish a coherent view of some branch of the law. and (2) what role coherence plays in explaining or justifying judicial decisions on such accounts. According to MacCormick.e. also views Dworkin as offering a coherence account of adjudication. Regarding the question of what is to be made coherent in coherence accounts of legal reasoning. Is exhibiting some degree of coherence with the existing law a necessary requirement of any justified judicial decision? Is it both a necessary and sufficient requirement. Raz 1994a disputes the idea that Dworkin's account of law should be understood as a coherence account. were the settled rules of the system justified. The court should then use this view of the law in order to justify its decision in a new case which comes before it.coherence account. Raz 1994a contends that coherence accounts. In the case of a coherence account of law. although writing before Dworkin had fully developed his account of law as integrity. require a ‘base’ or something which is to be made coherent. however. judges should try to realise the value of coherence in judicial decisions by interpreting the law as ‘speaking with one voice’. Sufficient or Desirable? Once a stance has been taken on the nature of the coherence relation in the case of law. the community personified. 3. would justify them. many further questions concerning the role which considerations of coherence are to play in legal reasoning come to the fore. if we are to apply a coherence account in order to determine how judges ought to decide cases according to law (legal reasoning in sense (b)). which differs in character in some crucial respects from the sort of base which features in coherence accounts in other areas of philosophy. One important issue is that of how much emphasis is to be placed on coherence in justifying a judicial decision. Raz's contention is that the law of a given jurisdiction does not vary with the beliefs of those subject to it. i. On such an approach. Marmor 1992 & 2005.

Levenbook finds this account of adjudication troubling because. then we can reformulate some of the questions raised above concerning how much emphasis is to be placed upon coherence in adjudication in terms of the extent to which. it fails to do justice to judges' responsibility to be faithful to pre-existing law. According to Levenbook. and that. Levenbook's view is that this approach gives coherence too modest a role to play in legal reasoning. on moral grounds. She contends that a judge who. may be overridden by competing values which judges should also try to realise in interpreting the law? Levenbook 1984 contends that it is a necessary condition for a judicial decision to be legally justified that it coheres with some part of the established law. for example. once a very minimal requirement of coherence is met. it is still necessary to provide an explanation of the rationale of arguments from analogy. in her view. namely interpretation and coherence. So. a responsibility which places the judiciary in a quite different situation from the legislature when it comes to the question of how law ought to be developed. Raz seeks to shift the burden of proof onto those who champion coherence. such that the facts speak for themselves in favour of the conclusion that considerations of coherence have a special role to play in legal reasoning. or one which.to be regarded as a desirable feature of judicial decision making. Raz asks not how could it ever be justified for judges to deviate from the trend of the existing law in order to adopt a less coherent but otherwise morally preferable decision. he nevertheless contends that. Pointing out that reasoning by analogy is not a necessary fact of life in all legal systems. namely that granting a strong role to considerations of coherence is to place considerable emphasis on the backward-looking aspect of adjudication. is wholly (Dworkin 1986) or mainly (Raz 1996a) interpretive. moreover. and. If we hold that legal reasoning in sense (b). adopts a decision which is better on moral grounds over one which displays greater congruence with the trend or spirit of the existing law has made a mistake. be the right thing. poses essentially the same dilemma. but certainly defeasible. according to law. Raz (1994a). If judges are sometimes to deviate from what would otherwise be. we should interpret it in such a way as to realise the value of coherence in judicial decisions. although desirable. as such an approach may require judges to place greater value on adhering to what has gone before. or can they ever be justified in adopting an outcome which is less coherent but morally preferable? This way of focusing the dilemma which judges may face brings out another important aspect of coherence in legal reasoning. namely reasoning from the content of the law to the outcome which judges should adopt in a case before them. or is it merely one feature of a successful such interpretation. while MacCormick also holds that minimal coherence with some part of the established law is a necessary condition of a judicial decision being justified. but one which can be overridden by other considerations in certain circumstances? At this point in the discussion. this value is too easily defeasible by other considerations. it is possible to draw out some further possible links between the two concepts with which this entry is concerned. is it a necessary feature. That is to say. perhaps because of the fact that reasoning by analogy is a common feature of many legal systems and seems to lend itself to being characterised in coherence terms. within the limits allowed to him by the law. in interpreting the law. further considerations of coherence which are also relevant to the decision can be defeated on consequentialist grounds. Levenbook very succinctly focuses the dilemma which judges must confront in deciding how much weight is to be placed on considerations of coherence in judicial decisions: should judges always adopt the outcome to a case which best coheres with the pre-existing law. who contends that coherence in legal reasoning is sometimes desirable. She contrasts her understanding of this requirement with that adopted by MacCormick 1978. rather than on doing what would otherwise. but rather why should judges ever deviate from what is otherwise the morally best solution to a case before them on grounds of coherence? The burden of proof point is important because Raz's view seems to be that arguments in favour of a strong role for coherence in legal reasoning go through too easily. or are too readily adopted as a default position. even where it does feature. is coherence the sole desideratum which should guide judges in interpreting the law. but seems to place the burden of proof on those grasping the other horn of it. the morally best outcome to a . and has adopted a legally unjustified decision. and the links between such arguments and coherence accounts of adjudication. so long as this minimal standard is met.

a community whose members accept that their fates are linked by virtue of the fact that their rights and responsibilities are governed by common principles. 3. such partial reform brings with it the possibility of introducing dissonance and conflict into the law in the meantime. we understand law as the voice of a community of principle. and have considerably less opportunity to engage in radical reform of the law. and. Dickson 2004 and cf. Raz contends. and to do so in such a way as to radically reform a whole area of law at one stroke. because by so doing. can only make decisions concerning the issues arising in the case before them.g.e. Are we talking of global coherence. judges should seek to constructively interpret the law. such that judges should strive to reach judicial decisions which cohere to some extent with the settled law of an entire legal system. in adjudicating cases. As was noted in subsection 2.e. then. the form or genre of law is to provide a convincing justification for the exercise of state coercion (see Dworkin 1986. coherence with particular branches or areas of law? .case before them on grounds of coherence. Such consequences need not dog legislative attempts to develop the law in a way which deviates from the doctrinal past. i. On Dworkin's account of adjudication—at least when that account is understood as a coherence account (see subsection 3. chs. 3. and the entry on interpretivist theories of law). Some theorists are not so concerned to provide a ‘law-specific’ explanation of why coherence has an important role to play in legal reasoning. e.5 Coherence in Legal Reasoning: Global or Local? In considering the role of coherence in legal reasoning. the entry on interpretivist theories of law). for Dworkin.4. by contrast. a final point to mention is that of how much of the law is to be made coherent according to various jurisprudential accounts granting a role to considerations of coherence. as he regards both judges and legal theorists as engaging in constructive interpretation (see Dworkin 1986. passim. we are in need of a convincing positive argument why this should be so. and hence create a considerable degree of dissonance with regard to existing legal doctrines in a given area of law. as was noted above.e. then some problematic consequences may ensue. Courts.). see Dickson 2001. p90). that judges are in a different position from legislators when it comes to deciding how the law ought to be developed. although acknowledging that there may be much more to be said about what is distinctive about legal reasoning. Dworkin argues that such a justification can best be provided when the law is viewed as the organised and coherent voice of what he refers to as a ‘community of principle’ i. These factors mean that judicial reform of the law will always be partial in nature. So for Dworkin. courts have to bear in mind that if they choose the former route. or should the coherence we seek be more local in nature. such as that they may introduce conflicting rules reflecting conflicting social and economic purposes into the law. i. For Dworkin. in the sense of speaking with one voice. Hurley 1990 is largely content to explore the consequences for legal reasoning which ensue from the coherentist account of general practical reasoning which she espouses. For example. because legislative institutions have the power to sweep away the past in introducing new legislation. Dworkin further contends that any adequate jurisprudential account of law must explain how what it takes to be law provides a general justification for the exercise of the coercive power of the state (for discussion of this point. to impose purpose on it in order to make of it the best possible example of the form or genre to which it is taken to belong (see Dworkin 1986. This may provide one reason why sometimes courts should give greater weight to considerations of coherence with pre-existing law in deciding cases which come before them. we must interpret law as coherent. In Law's Empire.1 above)—we find a different kind of answer to the question of why coherence has a special role to play in legal reasoning. 5 & 6. chs. and.2 & 3. Raz (1979 and 1994a) argues that when faced with the choice of adopting the (according to law) morally best outcome to a case over an outcome which coheres better with the settled law. rather than striking out in a (albeit otherwise morally preferable) direction which coheres less well with settled law.4 Why Should Coherence Play a Role in Legal Reasoning? One such argument may well be found in a point already mentioned in passing above. and so as capable of providing a general justification for the exercise of state coercion (see Dworkin 1986).

and criticises those who. and because a coherent interpretation of those norms may decrease their coherence with other legal norms. While. or even to erase entire the alleged boundaries between certain branches of law in the course of interpreting the law and applying it to new cases. but the principles concerned differ substantially from. rather. as it is concerned merely with the norms applicable to the case in question. although not yet written at the time of Levenbook's article. and he accordingly attempts to integrate it within his vision of adjudicative integrity. that if a given principle justifying a judicial decision does not fit at all well with the area of law which the case is classified as falling under. champions of global coherence ignore the fact that sometimes a legally justified decision is supported by. but which increases incoherence locally is the more strongly justified. . too. Raz 1994a also champions local over global coherence in adjudication. According to Levenbook. then the doctrine of local priority is to be given much less force. i. where there is a serious mismatch between the current compartmentalisation and actual views about relevant similarities and differences between areas of law held by those subject to it. That global coherence theorists may well be led to reject such a decision. it might be possible for judges to discard the doctrine of local priority altogether. and hence do not cohere well with principles from other branches of law. hold that justified judicial decisions are those which best cohere with the law as a whole. and undertake radical reform of some departments of law in order to make them cohere better with others. and. is something which is subject to the Dworkinian process of constructive interpretation. because of the strong pull toward global coherence in law as integrity—expressed in Dworkin's claim that it is necessary to strive to view the legal system as a whole as speaking with one voice. ch. On this line of thinking. However. the judicial interpretation undertaken by judges is of a far more local variety. and his argument mentioned in the previous section concerning the limitations on the reforming role of courts. Peczenik 1994 claims that while the goal of the kind of doctrinal interpretation undertaken by legal scholars (which he refers to as ‘legal dogmatics’) is to establish the unity of an entire legal system. the judicial decision which coheres best with the principles underlying some specific field of law may not result in increased coherence of the entire system of law.Levenbook 1984 is a supporter of local coherence. like Sartorius (1968 and 1971) and Dworkin (1977. is intended to support local coherence only. and to hold that an alternative decision which coheres well with the overall system of law.e. is. no matter how well such an interpretation coheres with other areas of the law (see Dworkin 1986. Dworkin 1986). as Levenbook 1984 notes. This being so. He does so via his doctrine of local priority in interpretation. for Levenbook. when the compartmentalisation of the law does not track widely held principles of those subject to the law accounting current classificatory boundaries as important. then this counts dramatically against deciding the case in accordance with that principle. a good reason to reject their theories: she contends that any plausible account of adjudication must make room for the kind of ‘area-specific coherence’ which she believes is necessary in the case of law. 7). and the way in which this sometimes militates in favour of coherence playing a role in judicial decision making. the voice of an authentic political community. Indeed. Dworkin does also recognise that compartmentalisation into different branches or areas of law is an indisputable feature of legal practice. it. in order that law can be seen as justifying state coercion—the current compartmentalisation of the law is not an unrevisable given for judges deciding cases. he claims. Dworkin's account of integrity in adjudication requires judges to attempt to view the legal system as a whole as exhibiting coherence and speaking with one voice in interpreting the law. in the sense of cohering with. principles which are distinctive of one area or branch of the law.