Arguing a fortiori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Courts and lawyers often argue a fortiori. Sometimes they actually use the Latin phrase to indicate that their conclusions do not just follow, but ‘follow a fortiori’ from certain premises. These are taken to be inferences of a distinct and important kind. But how exactly are they distinct, and why are they important? Despite their popularity, a fortiori arguments are not well understood and have not drawn much attention from legal theorists. This paper pursues two goals. The first is to bring out the form of a fortiori arguments, articulating those assumptions that, though typically left unstated, are necessary elements of arguments of this kind. The second goal is to say something about the point of such arguments, and to characterise the sort of context in which an arguer will have reason to deploy an a fortiori rather than an inference of a different type.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-237
Number of pages36
JournalModern Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • a fortiori arguments
  • justification of judicial decisions
  • legal argumentation
  • legal reasoning
  • legal theory


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