Reasoning by analogy in the law

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

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Published Version.

Farrar, J. H. (2009). Reasoning by analogy in the law. Paper presented at the 'Judicial reasoning: Art or science?' Conference, Canberra, Australia.

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© Copyright John H. Farrar, 2009.


Reasoning by analogy is fundamental to Common Law method and yet until recently has received relatively little analysis except as part of the Doctrine of Precedent. In this article we shall attempt an analysis of the nature of analogy in general, its relationship to logic and its place in reasoning with cases, statutes and codes. We shall then review some recent theoretical discussions of analogy and the link between reasoning by analogy and judicial decision making, ending with an analysis of justification in terms of principle and policy.