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School of Law

SOLM179 Common Law Reasoning

Module Description

This module is an advanced introduction to common law reasoning, which is conceived of as a deeply social and creative process of knowing, communicating, and reasoning with cases across time, involving varieties of factual description and construction, as well as different ways of generating and grouping cases. We unpack this in three themes, each with three seminars. First, we consider cases materially, as particular kinds of epistemic objects that have certain features, e.g., a certain page layout and certain stylistic features, which enable certain kinds of communication. We also consider how these case reports have changed over time, including how they have recently been digitised. Second, we examine the varieties of factual description and construction cases contain, focusing in particular on: the description of real parties; the construction of imaginary parties (such as the Reasonable Person); and the construction of very strange facts (e.g., via metaphor). Third, we turn to the temporalities of case law, examining varieties of knowing and reasoning with cases across time: distinguishing a present case from an alleged past precedent; creating time to collect cases (e.g., via legal fictions) and generating more cases (e.g., via future-oriented hypotheticals); and the grouping of cases together via, for instance, a common principle.

Applicable Groupings


30 Credits

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