The Nature of Legal Concepts: Inferential Nodes or Ontological Categories?
Title: The Nature of Legal Concepts: Inferential Nodes or Ontological Categories?
Author: SARTOR, Giovanni
Publisher: European University Institute
Series/Number: EUI LAW; 2007/08
I shall compare two views of legal concepts: as nodes in inferential nets and as categories in an ontology (a conceptual architecture). Firstly, I shall introduce the inferential approach, consider its implications, and distinguish the mere possession of an inferentially defined concept from its endorsement, which also involves the acceptance of the concept’s constitutive inferences. For making this distinction, I shall combine the inferential and eliminative analysis of legal concepts proposed by Alf Ross with the views of theoretical concepts in science advanced by Frank Ramsey and Rudolf Carnap. Then, I shall consider how concepts can be characterised by defining the corresponding terms and placing them within an ontology. Finally, I shall argue that there is a tension between the inferential and the ontological approach, but that both need to be taken into account, to capture the meaning and the cognitive function of legal concepts.
Type of Access: openAccess