Prediction theory of law

Prediction theory of law

The prediction theory of law was a key component of the Oliver Wendell Holmes' jurisprudential philosophy. At its most basic, the theory is a refutation of most previous definitions of the law. Holmes believed that the law should be defined as a prediction, most specifically, a prediction of how the courts behave. His rationale was based on an argument regarding the opinion of a "bad man." Bad men, Holmes argued in his paper "The Path of the Law", care little for ethics or lofty conceptions of natural law; instead they care simply about staying out of jail and avoiding paying damages. In Holmes's mind, therefore, it was most useful to define "the law" as a prediction of what will bring punishment or other consequences from a court.

The theory played a key role in influencing American Legal Realism.

Prediction theories of law fell in discredit after H. L. A. Hart, in his "The Concept of Law" (1961), argued that (1) they were blind to the internal point of view towards law, the sense shared by officials and law-abiding citizens that rules of law `ought' to be obeyed, and (2) they undervalue "the ways in which the law is used to control, to guide, and to plan life out of court." [Hart, p. 39.] As for the `bad man', Hart asks, "Why should not law be equally if not more concerned with the `puzzled man' or `ignorant man' who is willing to do what is required, if only he can be told what it is? Or with the `man who wishes to arrange his affairs' if only he can be told how to do it?" [Hart, p. 39]

ee also

*Judicial activism



  • Hart, H.L.A. "The Concept of Law". 1961: Clarendon Press.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Theory — The word theory has many distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge, depending on their methodologies and the context of discussion.In science a theory is a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena,… …   Wikipedia

  • law, philosophy of — Introduction       the formulation of concepts and theories to aid in understanding the nature of law, the sources of its authority, and its role in society. In English speaking countries the term “jurisprudence” is often used synonymously and is …   Universalium

  • Prediction market — Prediction markets (also known as predictive markets, information markets, decision markets, idea futures, event derivatives, or virtual markets) are speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. The current market prices can …   Wikipedia

  • Law of value — The law of value is a concept in Karl Marx s critique of political economy. Most generally, it refers to a regulative principle of the economic exchange of the products of human work: the relative exchange values of those products in trade,… …   Wikipedia

  • Law of multiple proportions — In chemistry, the law of multiple proportions is one of the basic laws and a major tool of chemical measurement (stoichiometry). It states that when elements combine they do so in a ratio of small whole numbers. For example, carbon and oxygen… …   Wikipedia

  • Theory of impetus — The theory of impetus was an antiquated auxiliary or secondary theory of Aristotelian dynamics, put forth initially to explain projectile motion against gravity. It was first introduced by Hipparchus in antiquity, and subsequently further… …   Wikipedia

  • probability theory — Math., Statistics. the theory of analyzing and making statements concerning the probability of the occurrence of uncertain events. Cf. probability (def. 4). [1830 40] * * * Branch of mathematics that deals with analysis of random events.… …   Universalium

  • Le Sage's theory of gravitation — is the most common name for the kinetic theory of gravity originally proposed by Nicolas Fatio de Duillier in 1690 and later by Georges Louis Le Sage in 1748. The theory proposed a mechanical explanation for Newton s gravitational force in terms… …   Wikipedia

  • Local hidden variable theory — In quantum mechanics, a local hidden variable theory is one in which distant events are assumed to have no instantaneous (or at least faster than light) effect on local ones. According to the quantum entanglement theory of quantum mechanics, on… …   Wikipedia

  • Chaos theory — This article is about chaos theory in Mathematics. For other uses of Chaos theory, see Chaos Theory (disambiguation). For other uses of Chaos, see Chaos (disambiguation). A plot of the Lorenz attractor for values r = 28, σ = 10, b = 8/3 …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.