may, 2018

09may4:00 pm5:30 pmJonathan Crowe: 'Not-So-Easy Cases"


Event Details

We are pleased to welcome Prof. Jonathan Crowe, who will present: ‘Not-So-Easy Cases’.

Jonathan Crowe is Professor of Law at Bond University. His research examines the philosophical relationship between law and ethics, looking at issues such as the nature and foundations of legal obligation and the role of ethics in legal reasoning. His research focuses on natural law theory and existentialist ethics, particularly the work of Emmanuel Levinas. Prof. Crowe is the author of several books as well as articles in journals including the Modern Law Review, the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Law and Critique, and the Melbourne University Law Review. He is currently completing a book on the natural law tradition in ethics and jurisprudence.

Abstract: The distinction between easy and hard cases in judicial decision-making is well known from the work of Ronald Dworkin. Dworkin focuses primarily on the challenges posed by hard cases. Easy cases, by contrast, remain relatively under-theorised. This paper begins by exploring how judges decide easy cases by relying on holistic intuitive judgments. I then build on Dworkin’s analysis by introducing a third category of cases, which I call not-so-easy cases. I argue that easy, not-so-easy and hard cases are distinguished by the extent to which the judge’s intuitive judgments about the factual and legal context for the case yield a clear and determinate outcome. Easy cases are fully resolved at an intuitive level and merely require judges to articulate their decisions; not-so-easy cases are tentatively resolved at an intuitive level but require judges to explain their decisions; and hard cases are unresolved at an intuitive level and require judges to justify their decisions. I offer an account of the decision procedures involved in each type of case. I further contend that most cases heard by appellate courts are not-so-easy cases. This suggests that the primary task of such courts is explanation (rather than justification, as Dworkin proposes).

Prof. Crowe’s seminar is part of our Hart Seminar Series, which features a diverse group of leading scholars working at the intersection of law and philosophy. Hart Publishing contributes generous support to make the seminar series possible.


(Wednesday) 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


University of Surrey School of Law

Frank Whittle Building (AB) Fifth Floor, Guildford, GU2 7XH

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