Monday, October 31, 2011

What is the Best Book to Teach Legal Skills? (syllogisms)

My choice is Legal Argument: The Structure and Language of Effective Language by James A. Gardner.  I think that at least one first-year class should teach this book and its methods in detail.  You cannot teach Gardner's method in just one class.  The teacher needs to teach it throughout a semester so that it will stick. 

Gardner believes that legal reasoning relies too much on analogical reasoning.  Rather, " all legal argument should be in the form of syllogisms."

A syllogism is deductive reasoning:

1.  Major premise

2.  Minor premise

3. Conclusion


1.  All men are mortal

2.  Socrates is a man

3.  Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Gardner goes into great detail on how to use syllogisms to develop legal arguments.  He then shows how to use the method to write up the argument.  I especially like his example in Chapter 8 on an Endangered Species Act Violation.

For a way to incorporate syllogisms (and other methods of legal reasoning) into a small-scale paradigm, see my article Legal Argument and Small-Scale Organization at .


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