Precedent, Interpretation and Probability (LAWS6836)


The unit will examine a number of contemporary debates regarding the nature of legal reasoning. The unit will examine the status of the modern doctrine of precedent and the current state of the Hart/Dworkin/Fish debate in regard to the nature of precedential reasoning. The unit will examine contemporary semantic theory and philosophy of language, and the contribution those fields can make to a proper understanding of the interpretation of legal texts. The unit will also examine the relationship between legal reasoning and moral reasoning and the new legal positivism of writers such as Goldsworthy and Shapiro. In a final segment, the unit will examine legal reasoning in regard to matters of fact, and the current debate as to whether legal fact finding can be modelled using Bayes' theorem and probability theory.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


1x2-hr lecture/week


structured class presentation (20%) and 7000wd essay (80%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


JURS6028 or JURS6029

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.