Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law


We live in a world of blurred boundaries. In nature, continuos transitions are ubiquitous phenomena. Geography distinguishes between different climate zones, biology between different developmental stages, medicine between normal and high blood pressure, engineering science between secure and insecure nuclear power plants, and so on. Yet, every scientist will grant that those distinctions are a matter of degree. The linguistic counterpart to the problem of blurred boundaries is the problem of semantic vagueness.


Apart from philosophy and linguistics, jurisprudence is the science that deals professionally with vagueness and blurred boundaries. The law is the bottleneck, so to speak, through which all socially relevant questions of demarcation must pass sooner or later. Under the heading of the "indeterminacy of law", semantic and ontological vagueness are regarded as a central methodological problem in jurisprudence.

The theoretical aim of the subproject "Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law" is to identify and systematize phenomena of vagueness and indeterminacy in different fields of study. Working out the common structures and problems will shed new light on those phenomena. The practical aim is to develop and implement procedures of dealing reasonably with blurred boundaries. – The topic of blurred boundaries requires methods from the humanities, but the problems are also of particular concern for engineering.

The subproject "Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law" comprises the research project "Vagueness in Law and EU-directives" in law and philosophy.