Edited by Bassey E. Antia
[Terminology and Lexicography Research and Practice 8] 2007
► pp. 119–134
Vague legal concepts
A contradictio in adjecto?
Translated by Benjamin D. Tyrybon
“Ernst: Wovon ich einen Begriff habe, das kann ich auch mit Worten ausdrücken.
Falk: Nicht immer; und oft wenigstens nicht so, daß andre durch die Worte vollkommen eben denselben Begriff bekommen, den ich dabei habe.” (Lessing 1948: 65)
Against the background of modern terminology theory (e.g. Picht 1993), I examine the concept of vagueness as it relates to legal concepts. It is often assumed in lay circles that, generally, legal concepts are or must be clear (and unambiguous). Legal experts (e.g. Heck 1932, Zingel 2001) claim on the contrary that many legal concepts are vague and only shed this inherent property after interpretation. I present some empirical evidence in support of the view that many legal concepts are inherently vague.
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