Sample Essay On Judicial Reasoning Of Fuller's Hypothetical Case Of The Speluncean Explorers

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Law, Criminal Justice, Supreme Court, Reasoning, Judges, Interpretation, Communication, Art

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/03/23


The analysis of judge activity can help answer critical questions regarding legal interpretations of judges and whether they follow a set of pre-existing standards or they only rely on different available techniques to reach their ultimate judgments. It is the judge responsibility to have the power that enables him to take the best decision in each cases handled to him. Such power is linked to the typical coercion of law. Juridical interpretation explains how the judge interprets legislations and laws in order to support the judge law-making role. Judges interpret and assess the available evidences presented to them while control the trials and hearings. This paper discusses the hypothetical case of Speluncean Explorers of Fuller; an article of the legal philosopher Lon L. Fuller which presents a legal philosophy puzzle to the reader and offer five possible judicial opinions relevant to judges sitting on a fictional court. The article offers five possible judicial responses that were different in its reasoning. Discussing this case will help assess judges legal interpretation of any arbitrary activity, and understand the decision they made regarding certain case, and whether they follow a set of pre-existing standards or rely on more than one technique to get the result they wish to reach.

Interpretation and Coherence in Legal Reasoning

Most jurisprudential theories focus on the subject of legal reasoning and attempt to understand law, how judges make decisions regarding different cases and identify the guidance and/or justification of their decisions. Historically, legal philosophy exhibits various attempts to address legal reasoning issues and find answers for relevant questions, for instance, is legal reasoning an activity that involves only to the adjudicative entities? Do we have specified unique reasoning methods? Does legal reasoning exhibit an independent character when it is applied in trials? The explanation of legal reasoning term can find the proper answers for these questions. By definition, legal reasoning means reasoning about law or judgments made by judges. Theorists claim that judges may have discretion to modify existing law by filling the gaps where existing law is indeterminate.
Nevertheless, legal reasoning is about the decision making process of judges regarding their cases following different approaches to legal theory. Legal theorists refer to legal reasoning by three main different points of view; the first one implies that legal reasoning is the establishment of the available regulatory content regarding a given issue. The second point of view claims that reasoning is the transfer of current content of law to the decision that determines which court should reach in a case regarding its previous case; the third one focuses on the decision that the judges make for each case. Ronald Dworkin, one of the most famous legal theorists, ensures that when a judge make a decision regarding any case they perform greater effort to ascertain the regulatory content and precisely apply it to the facts of the case. Therefore, judges' legal reasoning represents their reasoning to set the regulatory content of the law.

Locating Interpretation in Legal Reasoning

Therefore, because of its dualistic nature, it appears that we can figure out how far reasoning plays an integral role in lawful thinking patterns in sense, such as thinking to create the current substance of the law regarding certain issue, and legitimate thinking in sense, or to act as specific thinking originated the current content of the law. Joseph Raz, for instance, is one of the law scholars who precisely observed this methodology; he sees interpretation in legitimate thinking as 'expanding the gap' between the understanding of current law and modifying law or shaping a brand new one. Raz believes that interpretation plays a critical role in this regard in clarifying the reasons behind why we cannot find a more intensive approach to legal reasoning regarding judges' decision-making process. According to him, judges do not focus their attention on legal reasoning while they take such decisions, alternatively, they are likely to ensure the clarity of legal materials so they can determine how far such material can help them take the proper decision regarding the case in hand; therefore, they can reach another stage of legal reasoning in sense. The new stage implies their care for further materials, because the majority of their reasoning is interpretive and thus they can figure out a better interpretation for the existing content of law.

Why Is Legal Reasoning Interpretive?

Different points of view are in favor of the fact that legal interpretations can be different regarding location and time frame. Legal scholars identify a limited role to the judges intentions in terms of how they interpret different laws and legislations in different states and during different eras. It is a part of judge's way of thinking, because every judge's interpretation of legislative terms allows him to depend on different laws that can better reflect his intentions regarding the criminal cases. By comparing the approaches adopted by different scholars, like Raz, regarding the reasons why legal reasoning is interpretive, we find that we need to look to the relevant authoritative social resources instead of focusing on ascertaining the meaning and content of the law; it is better to view law as source-based rather than being interpretive. Therefore, the social practices of law are disputable by judges, who can disagree about the identified interpretation of these practices; thus, legal reasoning is necessarily interpretive.

Coherence of Legal Reasoning

Coherence theorists ensure that one hypothesis can be correct if other hypothesizes relevant to it are correct as well. In an attempt to avoid inefficiencies in traditionalist accounts of justification and truth that traditional scholar proposed, philosophers developed coherence trends of truth. Hence, legal justification and factual truth concepts are developed by legal philosophers and legal theorists as an initial step to develop coherence theories. Dworkin, for instance, implies that judges should provide proper decisions in hard cases, so they can determine the best proposition advocated by the defendant that can enhance coherence with the best theory of settled law. Legal scholars also granted coherence a central role and relevance to legal reasoning of judges.

Hypothetical Case of the Speluncean Explorers

The case in hand will be the example to illustrate our point of view regarding how far judges use legal interpretation as an arbitrary activity and the decisions they make without following a set of pre-identified standards. The case of Speluncean explorer is an article written by Lon L. Fuller, one of the celebrated legal philosophers of the last century; Fuller was adept in explaining law through allegory, as he believes that there is no better way to understand law and legislations than to read cases. The case suggests that five explorers are caved in following a landslide. Using radio communication, the five explorers were told that they would starve to death as long as they receive no food, and so, they decided to kill one of them and eat him so the others can survive. Using a pair of dice, they made their choice of who will be the one to be killed; then they made their decisions, one died and the other four survived. After their survival, the four remaining explorers felt guilty regarding killing and eating the fifth one; on the off chance that their engage the Supreme Court of Newgarth falls flat, they confront an obligatory capital punishment. The article provides five possible responses by the law; each response is different in terms of reasoning and ensuring whether to advocate them as guilty or not. The final sentence of the case was not in favor of the four explorers who were declared guilty and sentenced to death according to the Court's final decision.
According to the Court deem, the four explorers, or survivors, were convicted of violating law by committing a crime of "willfully end the life of another human". The case of the Speluncean explorers is regarded as a regulatory situation that took place in the Anglo-American debate regarding the role of equity and how effective the natural law can be in statutory interpretation. The plain meaning opinion conceptualizes the concept of enacting positive law by the legislature. According to the case, the four respondents have been sentenced in the Court of General Instances of the County of Stowfield for the homicide of their voyaging friend Roger Whetmore, or the fifth explorer. As per Newgarth's extremely compact homicide statute, the four explorers had been sentenced to death by hanging for the crime they committed. The main lesson of the case, according to Fuller, was the utilization of processes to attain the reclaimed goals.

Brief Description of Each Opinion

In the following few lines, the different opinions of different judges will be summarized, each with his own point of view and the interpretation he depended on to take his decision regarding the case.
Chief Judge Truepenny: this judge would be in favor of affirming the conviction and sentence. According to him, the homicide statute clearly applies to the defender's behavior, and cannot be seen inside the Court's area to disregard the statute. The executive may find suitable excuse. Actually, given different certainties of the case, the executive may be prone to show mercy, and the Court ought to urge the executive to act as such formally.
Judge Foster: this judge would turn around. He found the statute inapplicable for two reasons. The first one is that once the explorers were alienated from their society, they came back to act naturally, where society's laws had nothing to do with them. The second one is that the reason for the statute would not be applicable by applying it for this situation.
Judge Tatting: this judge would object. He found that the statute plainly applies in this case, however he found it difficult to deal with the event that he voted to accuse them as the outcome would be sever. Thusly, he would object.
Judge Keen: this judge would assert. It is not the judge's part to advise the executive what to do, other than to offer his point of view as a citizen. It is likewise not the judge's part to figure out if the activities of the four explorers were "good " or "evil," or whether the statute represents a great or a terrible arrangement. The judge's responsibility is to apply the statute, which unmistakably applies on its own terms to this case.
Judge Handy: this judge would turn around. The statute obviously applies, yet the judge must acquire practical judgment skills. Further, general feeling overwhelmingly bolsters inversion, and it is clear that the executive will not be forgiveness. Hence, it falls to the court.
Regarding the case circumstances, the Chief Justice Truepenny stated the facts in favor of the strict application of the articles of law, rather than depending on interpreting it. However, the course was open to judges under the law. The Chief Justice Truepenny was the advocate of institutionalism, according to the case; he was representing the positivist perspective. His approach focused on the fact that law should be given in literal interpretation. It is what it is an not what it ought to be, which makes it free from moral issues as being enacted by a sovereign power. His main thrust of the argument is that the statue under scrutiny sounds more clear and is being stated for law application rather than interpretation.

Question of Odds and Interpretation

Homicide is ordinarily considered as the case where some one is attempting to take advantage from killing another one. This is the reason juries are so concerned with rationale. This can explain why the killer is never viewed as a killer, because he has no individual rationale in the murdering. Therefore, in our case, the most important question will seek the motive of the four explorers for killing the fifth explorer, Whitmore. To interpret law meaning we need to understand the meaning of every word in a statute, and examine the meaning of the whole sentence. The legislature attempts to convey what the law warn people of not doing without giving them a place for absurd results. It is a mode of thought that identifies how the judiciary should interpret law articles and constitutional papers. Different methods of constitutional interpretations are available in the United States, for instance, such as Textulaism, strict Constructionism and Organism.

Objectivity of Natural Law

It is very ancient, and can be found in old societies, because modern societies is much more positivist. Natural law is not a vague effort, because it gives the weight to important things only. This can enhance the adaptation of law to reality, to exclude extremes, and ensure the continuity of legislative system. Judges believing in the survivability of natural law do not believe in the existence of statutory compulsion, because what we write down does not means it is applicable to the exemption of every other principle. Natural law can dictate people's own opinion rather than reflect it. In order to be credible, natural law must claim to be objective because objectivity helps make natural law look binding.

Conclusion and Findings

According to Fuller, the case of the Speluncean Explorers separates the power of issues, statutory interpretation, positivism, the purposes of statutes and natural law theory, the relationship of law and morality, and judging as the manifestation of practical reason. As we mentioned before, Fuller benefited from two real-life cases to support the circumstances in his case. The first case was U.S. vs. Holmes (1842), where sailors put 14 or 16 passengers overboard to meet their inevitable death in order to relief the weight and overload of the boat so that other passengers can survive. The other case was Regina vs. Dudley & Stephens (1884), which was more similar to Fuller case, where sailors conducted a lottery to pick someone of them to be killed and eaten by the others so the others can survive. From his allegory, Lon Fuller seeks to consider the objectives behind law existence. He used the altering nature of judgments of Supreme Court to highlight a variety of approaches to law. The point of view of the Chief Justice was based on believing on the significance of executive mercy in appeals regarding sentence and conviction. By reviewing the different views of the five judges, we find that Keen follows the positivism approach in separating matters of law and morality, while Tatting declared his inability to make a proper decision. On the other hand, Handy advocates a more convenient and popular decision as he believes, and Foster draws the attention to the importance of the spirit of law rather than the letter.
The decision made by every judge affirms his beliefs, for Foster, his decision affirms his belief in the necessity for intertwining the law, reason and moral in making a decision regarding any legal issue. According to Fuller, the case was made for a single objective, which is to bring into a common focus on certain divergent legal approaches that were existent since the time of the ancient Greeks. He implies that even philosophers were seeking to find suitable solutions for the problems from the past, debates will continue. If there is any prediction factor in the case, he continues, this does not go further than to suggest that the raised questions are permanent even before human race. Therefore, debates on judicial activism, role of media, judicial accountability, separating powers and authorities, and retributive theory of punishment will continue to be settled in every place and time.


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