New York University will host “Vagueness in Law: Philosophical and Legal Approaches,” a conference weighing the implications of vague language on the law, March 21-23 at NYU’s Department of Philosophy (5 Washington Place, ground floor [at Mercer Street]).
Speakers include: NYU Philosophy Professor Stephen Schiffer (“Philosophical and Jurisprudential Issues of Vagueness”), NYU School of Law Professor Jeremy Waldron (“Clarity, Thoughtfulness, and the Rule of Law”), and University of Toronto Philosophy Professor Diana Raffman (“Vagueness, Divergence, and Disagreement in Philosophy and Law”). The complete conference schedule may be found here.
One of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law is legal certainty, but vagueness, irrespective of what its sources are, poses a threat to this ideal. Since vague expressions are almost omnipresent in our language, their use in legal texts is virtually inevitable. As a result, the problem of deciding whether a general law applies to a particular case often lacks a clear answer. On the one hand, this may give judges space for discretion, which they can use to pay respect to the peculiarities of the case; but on the other hand, it seems to decrease the rule of law and to increase the rule of men. How much discretion is too much? What is the value of vagueness for law, and when does vagueness turn into a deficit? The conference will consider the practical implications of vagueness in legal contexts and weigh procedures to deal reasonably with vague legal language.
The event is free and open to the public. An RSVP is required by calling 212.998.9056 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporters interested in attending must RSVP to James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or email@example.com. Subways: N, R [8th Street]; 6 [Astor Place].