Friday, February 13, 2015
Sarah B. Lawsky (UC–Irvine) presented Statutory Reasoning at Northwestern yesterday as part of its Tax Colloquium Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:
Sarah Lawsky examines the structure of statutory reasoning after ambiguities are resolved and the meaning of the statute’s terms established. For statutory reasoning is not best understood as merely deductive. And while statutory reasoning can be fruitfully modeled using formal logic, standard formal logic is not the best approach for modeling statutory reasoning. Rather, this paper argues, using the Internal Revenue Code and accompanying regulations, judicial decisions, and rulings as its primary example, that at least some statutory reasoning is best characterized as defeasible reasoning—reasoning that may result in conclusions that can be defeated by subsequent information—and is best modeled using default logic.